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The Bool?, of 
AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 



The Boo\ of 

American Presidents 



BY ESSE V. HATHAWAY 



Illustrated by 
SAMUEL BERNARD SCHAEFFER 



WHITTLESEY HOUSE 

McGRAW'HILL BOOK COMPANY, INC. 

NEW YORK AND LONDON 

1931 



Copyright 1931, by the 

BOOK COMPANY, INC. 
All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, 
may not be reproduced in any form without 

permission of the publishers. 



Published by 
WHITTLESEY HOUSE 

A Division of the 
McGRAW'Hnx BOOK COMPANY, INC. 



Printed ** the United States of America fry 
TJie M<*|>Je Press Company, 



FOREWORD 



In the summer of 1787, a group of American men gathered 
in Philadelphia to draw up a Constitution 'which was to 
"make secure the blessings of Liberty for the United States 
of America." Among those men were some who had helped 
to write the Declaration of Independence. Among them 
were some who had fought in the American Revolution. 
A quarter of a century of steady devotion to their country's 
freedom bound these men together. 

And bound with them were other men men from 
broad rich estates, from stately colonial mansions, from 
prosperous offices in flourishing cities; men from rude cabins, 
from tiny stump-filled fields, from small shops in small 
villages; men from colleges, from log schoolhouses, from long 
hours of pouring over old worn volumes under candlelight. 
All of these had strained their ears to catch the sound of 
that old Independence bell. All of them had fought shoulder 
to shoulder to make America free. Where they came from, 
who they were, had made no difference in the way they had 
faced fire on the battle field, in the way they faced hunger, 
cold, discouragement, defeat, and victory. All that counted, 
when those tests came, was the man himself. If he measured 
up to the test, well and good. If not, nothing else mattered. 

With those men in mind, with their own long years of 
sacrifice also in mind, the Philadelphia group labored on 
through long hot days, patiently adding section after 
section, clause after ckuse to the Constitution. At last 
they came to the section where they had to state in whom 
the executive power was to be vested. Without any fine 



FOREWORD 

words, without any high-sounding phrases, those men 
proceeded simply, directly to say that the man holding that 
power should be called president; that he- should be at 
least thirty<five years of age; that he should be a natural 
born citizen- of the United States and a resident of his 
country at least fourteen years; and that he should be ready 
and willing to "take the following oath 

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faith" 
fully execute the Office of President of the United 
States and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, 
protect and defend the Constitution of the 
United States." 

That was all. No question of family, of fortune, oi 
education, of past experience. Nothing more. But back 
of those words what? Faith faith unswerving and 
high in the honor of American men. Faith in the wisdom, 
the fairness, the far vision of the American people. In the 
years between now and that long-ago summer of 1787 
how has that faith been kept? 

ESSE V. HATHAWAY. 

NEW YORK, 
September, 1931. 



CONTENTS 



FOREWORD 



Chapter I 

STARTING RIGHT 

1. GEORGE WASHINGTON : 3 

A victorious general rides home to Virginia; rides out again to form a new 
nation; and then, once again, to start the machinery of that new nation 
running steadily, securely, permanently. 

2. JOHN ADAMS: 23 

The New England townsman, with unswerving faith in the new nation^ 
future, stands back of that general's army with far-seeing, thrifty planning; 
stands with that general to start the new nation; and then, himself, takes 
the steering wheel for a cautiously safe four years. 

Chapter II 

EXTENDING BOUNDARIES 

1. THOMAS JEFFERSON: 35 

A towering plantation owner, lawyer, and statesman from the Blue Ridge 
frontier, announces his ideals of democracy in America's Declaration of 
Independence; voices those ideals as citizen, party leader, and president; 
also adds a vast territory for new opportunities to develop "life, liberty, 
and the pursuit of happiness/ 11 

2. JAMES MADISON : \. . 50 

With surprising directness and power, a very scholarly, courteous Vif' 
ginian from long years of public service steps into the presidency to declare 
war with England and to see that war end with his own young nation 
established as a real competitor in world trade and political power . 

Chapter III 

ON GUARD 

1. JAMES MONROE: 62 

Blundering sadly on foreign missions, this man from the Potomac Valley, 
sees far, acts wisely from the president's chair, and so brings content and 
prosperity back to a war-ridden country while also establishing his foreign 
doctrine of **hands off" new western nations. 

vii 



CONTENTS 
2. JOHN QUINCY ADAMS: 74 

As a mere lad, with his own land still fighting for independence, this son 
of the old Adams family travels overseas to study statecraft in Old World 
capitals; as a young man he returns to those capitals as diplomat from his 
young western republic; as an experienced statesman he becomes president 
under the Jeffersonian banner. 



Chapter IV 

NEW BLOOD 

1. ANDREW JACKSON : 83 

Striding out from the frontier wilderness of Tennessee, impulsive, fiery, 
picturesque, this man of the western people, leader of a newer democracy, 
brings about a startling change in manners of government. 

2. MARTIN VAN BUREN: 96 

Rearing himself from the snug content of a little Dutch village to rule with 
high hand over New York's tangled political affairs, this supporter of 
Jacksonian democracy goes on to the presidency only to find himself facing 
a people clamoring loudly against his extravagant policies. 

3. WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON: . 104 

Born and bred in Virginia, fighting and living out in the Middle and Great 
Northwest, this log-cabin candidate brings a clean, brave record on to the 
White House only to die a month after his oath of office is taken. 

4. JOHN TYLER: 104 

Elected as vice-president, this Virginian statesman's party is startled when 
the death of President Harrison makes him head of the nation; and they 
continue to be startled throughout his whole administration because of 
his independence of their plans and policies, 

Chapter V 

NEW LANDS 

1. JAMES KNOX POLK: 114 

A dark horse from Tennessee becomes eleventh president of the United 
States, declares and wins a war with Mexico; adds a vast southwestern 
territory to the nation's possessions; while at the same time adding tre* 
mendouBly to that nation's problem of slavery. 

2. ZACHARY TAYLOR: 123 

"Old Rough and Ready," hero of Mexican battles, idol of American people, 
faces that people as president without knowledge of what lies before him 
or of how to pky the political game, and before he gets far in learning how 
to do either, death comes. 

viii 



CONTENTS 



3. MILLARD FILLMORE: 123 

With his background of western New York pioneer life, solid legal training 
and well-tested honest service, a vice-president becomes president with 
the task of adjusting all of the accumulating disputes over boundaries and 
slavery in new possessions. 



Chapter VI 

A NATION DIVIDED 

1. FRANKLIN PIERCE: 134 

As the son of a sturdy family of Revolutionary patriots, this dark horse 
candidate becomes the head of a bitterly quarreling people only to confuse 
them still more as a Northerner who generally favors the South in its 
skvery policies. 

2. JAMES BUCHANAN: 143 

As a lawyer, foreign diplomat, and an experienced public servant, this 
citizen of Pennsylvania blunders by trying to be friend to both slavery and 
anti'slavery leaders until he sees the Union split widely assunder by seces* 
sion of Southern states. 

Chapter VII 

WELDING 
1. ABRAHAM LINCOLN: 151 

"With malice toward none and charity for all," a tall, gaunt, sad^eyed man 
comes out of the Middle West to see Civil War through to a peace that 
means untarnished integrity and honor to his beloved country. 

Chapter VIII 

STARTING ALL OVER 

1. ANDREW JOHNSON: 170 

Struggling all his life against odds, first of poverty and lack of all schooling, 
later of a political leader born and bred in the South, this vice-president of 
Abraham Lincoln is thrust forward as chief executive to meet blame from 
the South, misunderstanding from the North in the very difficult days of 
early reconstruction activities. 

2. ULYSSES S. GRANT: 186 

The brilliant commander of victorious campaigns, a kindly and simple man, 
now comes to the rescue from Abraham Lincoln's own state, and after 
eight years of desperate struggle leaves the president's chair with his 
people facing toward progress once more. 

ix 



CONTENTS 

3. RUTHERFORD B. HAYES: 198 

With the people approving his record as a good soldier and honest states' 
man, this man from Ohio manages in spite of the opposition of shrewd 
political leaders to further that progress until the nation once more lies 
out before him in general content and prosperity. 



Chapter IX 

GOING STEADILY 

1. JAMES A. GARFIELD: 209 

A hard-working, self-made man, a good soldier and honest statesman, begins 
his administration as another Ohio president only to die by an assassin's 
hand. 

2. CHESTER A. ARTHUR: 209 

A vice-president who unexpectedly becomes president faces a nation 
generally distrustful because of his past political record but gives that 
nation, a good clean-cut administration. 

3. GROVER CLEVELAND : 226 

Trained in severe ideals of upright living, hardened by poverty and long 
years of shrewd political life, a governor of New York is made president 
for one term, is defeated for the next, and then is again the country's 
choice to stand like a stone wall for his own conviction of what is wise in 
financial policies. 

4. BENJAMIN HARRISON: 240 

Swinging into place between Grover Cleveland's two severe administra^ 
tions, this descendant of an old loyal American family helps to start a 
revival in American industrial interests and to reduce the public debt. 



Chapter X 

DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

1. WILLIAM McKiNLEY: 247 

With labor troubles and financial depression growing slightly less, the 
country brings this Ohio Civil War veteran and statesman to head the 
government during the War with Spain and ths adjustment of island 
possessions acquired by that war* 

2. THEODORE ROOSEVELT: " 259 

Loving danger and a rousing good fight as much as he Kates dishonesty in 
high places, the general of San Juan Hill, the hero of the u Kg Stick*"* 
appears as president and straightway stirs the red blood of every American 
citij$en by his fearless activity for the whole people's welfare. 



CONTENTS 
3. WILLIAM TAFT: 274 

Kindly, patient, but sternly just and honest, this man leaves his beloved 
law practice to look after the people living on America's new island posses* 
sions; proves most worthy of that trust; comes on to the presidency but 
meets defeat for a second term through disregard of some of his own 
party's wishes. Later, he attains his real life's ambition when he is chosen 
Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. 

Chapter XI 

AND THOSE NOT SO WEAK 

1. WOODROW WILSON: 287 

Hating war with all the strength of his own convictions plus that of his 
Scotch Presbyterian inheritance, a Princeton professor and New Jersey 
political leader finds himself looking out from the president's chair on a 
war'swept world needing America's help; and he sends that help while 
declaring his faith in a victory which shall bring a lasting world peace. 

Chapter XII 
AT THE WORLD'S CROSS ROADS 

1. WARREN GAMALIEL HARDING: 3O 

Facing new possibilities of international relations, this easy-going, friendly 
editor of an Ohio town paper, accustomed to playing the political game, 
in his own state, finds the situation at Washington too much for his courage 
or power to handle. 

2. CALVIN COOLIDGE: : 32. 

Shrewdly insisting that the United States adhere in the main to her ceri' 
tury'old foreign policy of "hands off," this man of few words from the hills 
of Vermont, goes from the vice'presidency on to the presidency following 
the World War; and tries to adjust America's place in a new international 
order. 

3. HERBERT HOOVER: 34 

As an engineer trained to solve difficult problems, as a man known for his 
wise understanding leadership in relief of suffering peoples, this son of an 
Iowa Quaker family brings to his administration a broad vision which 
includes not only America's own welfare but that welfare as related to the 
welfare of all the world. 

INDEX . . . * M 



XI 



The Boo\ of 

AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 
-O- 



Chapter I 

STARTING RIGHT 



I. GEORGE WASHINGTON 



IT was the morning of the day before Christmas, 1783. 
Long before dawn, George Washington had been up 
and away riding south toward Mt. Vernon. He meant to 
be there, at home, before his own fireplace for Christmas 
Eve. Only yesterday he had handed in his resignation as 
commander-in-chief of the colonial army to the Senate con-* 
vened at Annapolis. And, although it seemed much longer, 
it was less than a month since he had said good'by to his 
officers in New York. 

That had been a hard day. Men who had shared cold, 
hunger, discouragement, who had gone down to defeat 
together, who had fought grimly shoulder to shoulder 
eight long years to bring final victory to this new land why , 
of course, they were bound to each other by ties unlike 
any other. Not a man among them had been ashamed of the 
tears blinding him as he said that good'by. 

Where were they all to-day? At home, or riding as 
he was, no doubt, over some lonely road at peace with 
themselves, eager to reach their own firesides and to stay 
there. Cornwallis had surrendered. The British had marched 
out of New York. Their work was done. Now let some one 
else say what next was to be done. 

As for him the General shook his broad shoulders and 
looked out over the country beginning to take shape in th 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

early gray light he was already down in Virginia. Not 
only in Virginia, but in that part of the loved land between 
the Potomac and the Rappahannock held most dear to his 
family. It was here that his great-grandfather, straight from 
old Sulgrave, England, back^jiJL^Z, had taken up his 
first acres of land, built his first home, set about thriftily 
adding more land, and then had ridden out from his new 
estate in the wilderness as the chosen representative of 
his neighbors in the Virginia House of Burgesses. 

Yes, the valley had been kind to the Washington family. 
And they, in turn, had kept faith with the valley. Augus- 
tine Washington, the General's own father, had continued 
to add land to that which he inherited until he owned 
some half-dosen plantations. He had also continued the 
family custom of working actively in the House of Burgesses. 
It could never be said that the Washington family lived 
to themselves. Even while accumulating rich lands and 
becoming known as a family of wealth, no one of them 
ever forgot for a minute his allegiance to Virginia or to his 
own community within Virginia. 

George Washington was born with that family record 
facing him. When he was still a little fellow, only nine, 
his father had died, bequeathing him vast stretches of land 
out along the Rappahannock, so that he had never known 
what it was to be free from the family's feeling of responsi- 
bility for developing and protecting possessions. Maybe 
that was one of the reasons he had always taken everything 
so seriously in life; that, and the fact he had had to work so 
hard for everything he ever learned. 

At any rate he had never shirked any task; not even 
those set him by his first teacher, the village church sexton. 
And when he was only thirteen, he had taken to heart so 
seriously his mother's long talks on what a Virginia gentle- 



STARTING RIGHT 

man's manners should be that he had written long pages of 
rules on the subject. But even while doing all of that, he 
had also spent long hours out-of-doors, growing tall, 
broad-shouldered, and strong, as he worked at the thing 
he liked best surveying. Evidently not only the thing 
he liked best but a thing he must have done wonderfully 
well; for when but fourteen he was plotting the neighbors'* 
fields and two years later, at sixteen, was completing his 
course in surveying. 

That same year, he had begun his first really important 
job of surveying when he went out to establish the boundary 
of Lord Fairfax's huge estate, stretching west to the Al- 
leghenies. That was when he had had his first glimpse of 
how vast a wilderness of territory lay beyond his own 
settled valley. That was, also, when he had had his first ex- 
perience in sleeping out under the stars with only a thin 
blanket to keep him warm, in eating his simple meals from 
fresh green leaves, and sometimes in hearing the soft-footed 
red man slip by in the darkness with a fresh scalp dangling 
from his belt. 

Despite all of these distracting experiences, George 
Washington did his work so well that the next year saw 
him claiming his commission of public surveyor of Fairfax 
County. Before he was twenty he had begun to buy land 
for himself. Then had come his first great grief in the 
death of his brother Lawrence. After that, according to 
family agreement, Mt. Vernon, Lawrence Washington's 
home, with its wide sweeping view of the Potomac, its 
well-cultivated fields, its old gardens with low, trimly cut 
hedge rows, its memories of happy boyhood visits, became 
the home of George Washington. 

How many times he had gone out from and come back 
to that home! He had been only twenty at his brother's 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

death. Now, December 24, 1783, he was fifty-one. The 
years between had certainly been full of red-blooded living. 
There was the time when he was only twenty-one and 
Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia had sent him through the 
wilderness to what is now the western line of Pennsyl- 
vania to warn the French to give up their trespassing 
on British claims. And he had gone with only Jacob von 
Braem, his fencing and drill master, a Dutch soldier of 
fortune; Christopher Gist, a guide; and two servants. 
It had been winter when he started to cut his way through 
the wilderness and had still been winter when he came 
back bearing the courteously defiant refusal of the French 
to give up their plans to hold those western lands. 

Quite naturally, Governor Dinwiddie had not liked that 
message. Neither, apparently, had George Washington, for 
when the Governor replied to the French commander by 
sending a body of Virginia militia to drive the trespassers 
out, the young man had gone along in the advance guard. 
For about two years he had been getting ready study" 
ing and drilling with Virginia troops for just some such 
need as that. What was more, he had done so well, that 
he had been given command of one of the districts into 
which the colony had been divided for better protection. 

But if ever a man came near to losing all chance for 
further promotion, George Washington did in that first 
expedition. Just why he did what he did, nobody has ever 
been able to explain, when he selected the pkce for his 
fort where he was open to attack on three sides. To be sure 
he had even from that exposed position surprised a 
French advance of thirty men, killed ten of them among 
them the very officer who had sent the defiant message 
back to Governor Dinwiddie and taken the rest prisoners. 
But, immediately, the whole French force, seven hundred 

8 



STARTING RIGHT 

of them, had descended in merciless swiftness on that 
defenseless fort and although the small garrison put up a 
stiff nine'hour fight, George Washington had been compelled 
to surrender. 

Of course, that was a disastrous beginning for any 
military career. But, right then, George Washington was 
able to do what he so often did in the long years that 
followed and that was to turn defeat into near victory. 
Always dignified, always courteous, time and again he 
twisted disaster into something of honor. And so it had 
been in that first campaign; for the French allowed him to 
retreat with all the honors of war. In addition, when he 
finally appeared before the House of Burgesses to tell his 
full story, that body had not only given him a vote of 
thanks but with that vote the title of colonel. Shortly 
after, however, when the English government had ordered 
all colonial officers to serve as subordinate to the King's 
officers, George Washington, despite the honors given him, 
had resigned from the militia and had gone riding back 
to Mt. Vernon. 

He had not been allowed to stay ( there many months, 
however, before General Braddock arrived to lead another 
campaign against the French and to ask the young man at 
Mt. Vernon to be his aide with a courtesy title of colonel 
Washington had accepted; had caught a fever while riding 
through the wilderness in the heat of summer; had, while 
in the grip of that fever, fought like a young madman, 
only to see General Braddock wounded to death, to yield 
the defeat of his troops, and then again to ride back to 
Virginia, to be loaded once more with gratitude and made 
commander'in'chief of all that colony ^s troops. 

Since those troops were made up of seven hundred 
untrained men scattered along four hundred miles of 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

wilderness frontier, Washington's new command had 
brought not only glory, but unbelievable hardships. As a 
result he again became ill, and was ordered home to Mt. 
Vernon. There he had rested and grown strong so that by 
the next year he was to ride forth once more at the head of 
the advance guard to try his strength against the French in 
the West. That had been his third and last ride into the 
West, for that campaign ended in a victory which pulled 
down the French flag from Fort Duquesne and changed its 
name to Fort Pitt. 

He was twenty-six when he saw the British flag hoisted 
above that fort. After that he had been free to return again to 
Mt. Vernon. Just the year following he had married Martha 
Custis, a young widow with two children, and settled 
down to the life he loved best the life of a Virginia 
gentleman. That life meant care of large estates, meant 
a warm-hearted delightful hospitality to neighbors and 
friends, meant assuming the responsibility of representing 
his district in the Virginia House of Burgesses just as all 
of the Washington men had assumed it before him. Since 
he had taken that responsibility deeply to heart, and be- 
cause the duties were new to him, he had done as always, got 
ready by studying hard. Gradually, as he served term after 
term, not talking much, but quietly directing and advising, 
he had become recognised as one of Virginia's ablest political 
leaders. That fame, joined to that of his military campaigns 
against the French, had spread not only through all of 
Virginia, but out through all of the other British- American 
colonies. And the other colonies had listened, for there 
was a growing need of leadership during those years years 
when the American colonies were finding increasing trouble, 
under the rule of England's king to grow as they felt they 
should grow. George Washington had looked out from the 

10 



STARTING RIGHT 

quiet of Mt. Vernon and had seen that trouble grow 
steadily. He had hoped against hope that a break with the 
land of his fathers might be avoided. But as the months 
passed, he had given up that hope. That was why, when the 
Boston Port Bill came bringing its trail of suffering, he had 
risen in the first provincial convention at Williamsburg, 
August 1, 1774, and said: 

"I will raise 1,000 men, subsist them at my own 
expense, and march at their head for relief of 
Boston." 

Quite naturally, after that, with his years of service 
back of him, Virginia had chosen him to represent the 
colony in the First Continental Congress. Bight then and 
there, George Washington had stopped being just a Virgin- 
ian and had become an American. What was even more to 
the point, he had, very shortly afterward, become a 
leading American. Of course, then, when the Second 
Continental Congress had met in Philadelphia, in June, 
1775, with the news of Lexington and Concord still stirring 
the blood of the members to white heat, with the British 
troops occupying Boston, with the picture of that handful 
of untrained, unequipped New England men gathered out" 
side ready to match themselves against the world-famous 
British regulars, George Washington was the choice of 
that Congress to lead an army north to the rescue. 

He had not accepted the choice very easily. When he 
had, however, and with it the title of Commander-in^Chief 
of the colonial army, he immediately announced that 
he would accept no pay for his services and that his ex- 
penses need not be met until after the war. It was evident 
right then that he had no thought, ever, that that war 
could end other but victoriously for the raw, ragged, 

11 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

undisciplined colonial troops. Before he had time even to 
reach Cambridge where he had taken command of his men, 
his faith had been made still more strong by news of 
Bunker Hill. 

In the first year of his command he had drilled his men 
men from the fields, from the shops, from high public 
places into an army that had brought cannon down from 
Ticonderoga, had set them up on Dorchester Heights, and 
early the next March had driven the British out of Boston. 
Then, without waiting for breath, he had marched south, 
established himself with nine thousand men in a weak 
position on Brooklyn Heights, where, while the British fleet 
in the harbor threatened New York City, General Howe 
with over twice the number of men had fallen upon him. 
And the story might have ended right there with a com" 
plete destruction of the colonial army if Washington's 
whole force had not taken advantage of a heavy fog to 
cross over to Manhattan in ferry boats. Driven from 
there up to White Plains, from White Plains down into 
New Jersey, the Commander-in-Chief had seen his small 
army grow steadily less. Then, just as everybody thought 
that he would have to give up, he had crossed the Delaware 
and swooped down on the Hessians" gay Christmas revelry, 
to capture a thousand prisoners together with a store of 
supplies that had put heart into every colonial soldier. 

That thrilling victory made a Christmas for America to 
remember forever and a day. The news of it had brought 
Cornwallis hurrying to Trenton, where, after a short flurry 
of fighting he had seemed to think he could take his time 
before finishing the Americans. While he was taking it, 
Washington had crossed over on the frozen river, once 
more surprised the enemy in the early dawn, put them 
completely to rout, seized their supplies, and had been off 

12 



STARTING RIGHT 

to a safe position at Morristown before the British general 
had finished rubbing his eyes. 

Those victories had stiffened the backbone of the whole 

American army. But they also had brought General Howe 

fl down from New York with eighteen thousand men to 

^ defeat Washington's eleven thousand at Brandywine. 

(v Following that it had been easy for the British to march 

(jO into Philadelphia while the American Congress fled. That 

^discouraging summer had been followed by the bitter 

^ Valley Forge winter, when, while trying to keep his half' 

' starved, half-frozen men from disbanding from under him, 

he had also had to fight plots among his own officers to 

drive him from his position as commandepin-chief . Without 

losing his faith in the cause for which he was fighting, with" 

out losing faith even in his own men, Washington traced 

those plots back to their source and nipped them right there. 

^ Did the man now riding back to Mt Vernon, spend 

fOmuch time remembering those miserable days? Or did his 

-^mind leap on to the time when the French came over to help 

the disheartened American army? Of course there had been 

months of maneuvering after that glad day before he closed 

in on General Cornwallis from the rear at Yorktown while 

the French fleet had approached along shore. Then had 

come the very hour when he had received in surrender the 

.^sword of that British general That hour should have ended 

% the war, but there had been more months long weary ones 

p before the English had at kst marched out of New York 

J and left him free to go home. 

^ Of course, George Washington had always been sure 
that they would march out not only from New York but 
from the whole country. Even so, now that all fighting 
was done, now that the new flag of America flew over the 
whole land, there must have come even to him a different 

13 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

attitude toward that land. For now toward not only the 
valley through which he was then riding the valley of 
his .father's home, of the whole Washington family in 
fact but toward the land beyond, the land making all of 
the young states north and south, George Washington 
must have had a certain feeling of possession. And, as 
always, with the Washingtons, possessions meant serious 
responsibility. Something of all this must have been in the 
mind of the man riding home that December day some- 
thing even when he caught the first glimpse of Mt. Vernon 
rearing its broad chimneys and white clapboarded walls to 
welcome him home in the grey twilight of Christmas Eve. 



AND just as he could not help that feeling of response 
bility, neither could he help doing something about it. 
There lay the young country a new nation stretching 
back from the Atlantic seacoast into the wilderness, 
connected, so far as travel was concerned, only by narrow 
trails, or post roads, almost impassable during parts of the 
year. Still, over those difficult roads men had traveled to 
their first coming together against England's acts of op' 
pression. And as they talked, planned, and met almost 
unbelievable difficulties, every one of those men had kept 
his own faith in the outcome. 

Because of that faith the Articles of Confederation had 
been drawn up and ratified as early as 1777- Nobody, 
however, regarded those articles as covering all that 
should be covered when the new nation once had finished 
the war and had time to think out a constitution worthy 
of its future growth. So, now, even while seeing that the 
fields of Mt. Vernon yielded full crops, even while enter' 
taining his friends who came in great numbers to visit 

14 



STARTING RIGHT 

him, George Washington was busy writing, talking, urging 
that that constitution be made before the states grew so 
strong in their own rights that they would hesitate to 
come together under any central government. 

With all of his work, it was two years before any group 
met to discuss common interests. Even then, that group 
assembled only to adjust certain conflicting opinions over 
the trade rights on the Potomac. Which meant that the 
delegates were from Virginia and Maryknd alone. However, 
the meeting, called in Annapolis, adjourned to Mt. Vernon 
and out of it grew a desire to have one where all of the 
states would be represented. Virginia proposed such a 
meeting for the following year. Only five representatives 
appeared there, but those five took matters into their own 
hands and called a convention at Philadelphia for the next 
year, 1?87- 

That convention was just what George Washington 
had been wanting and working to get. Since he was the 
best known, the most trusted man there, he was naturally 
chosen to preside. With the shrewdly wise Benjamin 
Franklin present every second to help him to smooth out 
differences, to give inspiring suggestions, the convention 
swung along pretty much as he meant that it should. 
Those two really talked very little of what they had 
done for America, but when either one recommended 
a measure, the convention knew that that measure was 
based on loyalty yes but also on good common sense 
growing out of practical experience. In turn, those two 
recognised that the states had each sent its most trusted 
leaders to debate on the future. If ever those states were 
to be brought together right then was the time. 

So Washington saw that the members came together 
every day of that summer of 1787 from May 25 until 

15 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

September 17- What is more, he saw that they all worked 
worked out their own problems toward a general but 
common good. And the Constitution of the United States 
was the result. With that end reached, the convention, 
with its long hours of bitter discussions, with its jealousies, 
with its never-failing patriotism, adjourned, and George 
Washington, its chairman, rode off once more to Mt 
Vernon to rest. 



BUT that Constitution provided for a president of the 
United States. Just as no other man had been considered 
as wise enough, experienced enough to lead the American 
army to victory; just as no other man had been considered 
wise enough or experienced enough to preside over the 
convention which drew up the form of government best 
suited for the future growth of America; so now no other 
man was seriously considered as fitted to be the first 
president of the new nation. 

And what did George Washington think? Having come 
so far, how could he refuse to go on to the end? Every one 
of the thirteen states said emphatically that it would 
accept no refusal from him. He was the one man needed. 
What could he do but turn his back on the peace of Mt 
Vernon and ride out to take his place as the first president 
of the United States? At the same time, John Adams, 
stern New England John Adams, rode down from Massa- 
chusetts to take his place beside the Virginian, as vice- 
president, second choice of the nation. 

Washington took the oath of office, April 30, 1789, on 
Wall Street, New York, only a few steps from where he 
had said good-by to his officers six years before. No one who 
heard his voice ring out in his inaugural address that day 

16 



STARTING RIGHT 

could doubt that he felt keenly that he measured well 
the responsibilities ahead of him; but no man could have 
taken those responsibilities better able to act freely; no one 
could have taken them more universally trusted by a 
whole people. 

No man ever needed the help of all of his people more 
than he. Everything was waiting to be done at once. And 
before any one thing could be done, the machinery of the 
new constitution had to be set up. Immediately, Washing" 
ton, not a party man himself, showed his tact in managing 
men by choosing his heads of departments equally from 
the two parties which had sprung up in the long months 
of producing the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton, leader 
of the Federalists and believing in a strong central govern" 
ment by a small group, was balanced by Thomas Jefferson, 
leader of the Anti'Federalists, later called Republicans, 
believing in less power for the central government and 
more for the individual states and the people in general. 

But, even before getting all of the wheels of government 
started, the President had had presented to him for signing, 
the first tariff bill, which, like all the numberless ones that 
have followed in never ending party issues, had been the 
subject of prolonged and heated discussion in the House 
of Representatives. Of course, in those first days, however, 
any subject having to do with money for the new govern" 
ment had to be handled with fair swiftness and wisdom. 
An income had to be established, a debt of about $54 9 00(X 
000 had to be paid, $11,000,000 of it to foreign countries, 
the remainder to the citizens of the United States. How 
could a new country, still war weary, with industries not 
yet under way, with fkrming undeveloped and markets 
widely scattered along almost impassable roads how could 
it meet such debts? How could it get on its feet financially? 

17 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

Those questions would have been hard enough to answer 
if everybody had worked together to answer them. Un- 
fortunately, however, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander 
Hamilton, bitterly opposed to each other along party lines, 
found plenty to disagree upon in financial issues. Since 
Hamilton was secretary of the treasury, it was his duty 
to submit a plan for furnishing that treasury with funds. His 
plan included the levying of an internal revenue tax and 
the establishment of a national bank. Jefferson fought 
the plan as one that gave the central government too much 
power over the states. Certain of the members of the 
President's cabinet believed with him; certain others with 
Hamilton. Washington, after hesitating and studying the 
whole question in his usually slow, thorough way, ap- 
proved Hamilton's plan and lived to see his wisdom justi- 
fied by the country's rapidly growing prosperity. Jefferson, 
at once, began welding his party into one of powerful 
opposition to all of Hamilton's policies that was when the 
party first took the name of Republican. 

The conflict over those matters at home was increased 
by sympathy for and against France and Great Britain 
in the war declared by France in 1793. Jefferson, who had 
been minister to Paris in the early years of the French 
Revolution, sympathized with the French. Hamilton hated 
the French republic as directly opposed to his ideas of 
government. Under the two leaders, feeling between the 
two parties grew to a white heat. 

Certainly Washington was in a difficult place. Had not 
the French come to his help in the very darkest days of 
the Revolution? Could he turn his back on them now? 
Could he, especially, when the two countries had agreed 
to protect each other's possessions in America against 
Great Britain? Right in the midst of this tense situation., 

18 



STARTING RIGHT 

a French agent, Citizen Genet, knded in Charlestown and 
began to assemble troops, fit out ships, and then to march 
with flags flying up toward Philadelphia exactly as if he were 
on French soil. That was going too far; even for the French. 
Something had to be done and done quickly. Since the very 
life of the United States depended on her keeping out of 
any war right then, there was only one thing for President 
Washington to do and that was to keep them out by 
declaring that the United States government would take 
sides with neither country. He therefore made his declaration 
of neutrality. 

No finer tribute to George Washington was ever paid 
than that paid to him right in the midst of the great excite- 
ment that followed. Party feeling was never more bitter. 
His first term was coming to a close. Jefferson could have 
turned against him with his whole strong party following 
the lead. Instead, forgetting all party feeling, in face of 
the fact that Washington through signing the National 
Bank Bill, through proclaiming neutrality, had, apparently, 
sided with his political enemy, Thomas Jefferson joined 
with Hamilton in begging George Washington to take 
the presidency for a second term. 

What man could turn his back on such an expression 
of trust? George Washington, at any rate, was not the man 
to do so. So he entered another four years. Even though 
he now had to meet party bickerings, he knew better what 
the whole country wanted than any man under him. Not 
only had he kept close to the needs of each state through 
its representatives, but in the early months of his first 
administration he had made it his business to travel out 
among those states, to greet the people intimately, to talk 
with the state leaders, and to find out, at first hand, the 
needs of his land. Riding by stage coach over mud roads, 

19 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

through miles of sparsely settled farm lands, was not an 
easy thing to do even to a man used as he was to privations 
of war. But he did it, just as he did everything else in his 
life as a part of his responsibilities in bringing the far- 
flung states of his country to know each other and their 
president better. 

Certainly, George Washington, beginning his second 
term, was in serious need of the understanding that 
acquaintance had brought him. War with France and 
Great Britain was still on. The bitterness still naturally 
rankling against Great Britain because of her earlier treat- 
ment of America, was now increased by her failure to meet 
certain treaty agreements and by her stopping American 
vessels on the high seas to seizje British-born seamen and 
force them to fight on British men-of-war. At last embargoes 
were laid despite their hindrance to trade on shipping in 
American ports. The United States only waited for Wash- 
ington to say the word, and war would have been on. 

But Washington did not say the word. Instead, he 
asked John Jay, minister to Great Britain, to negotiate 
with that government for a new treaty. No more honorable, 
public-spirited man than John Jay could have undertaken 
the task. But when he announced the result, after long, 
anxiously difficult weeks, he brought down on his head 
a terrible storm of misunderstanding opposition. The$ 
most objectionable part of the treaty was that which gave 
American vessels of under seventy tons entry to the 
British West Indies, providing she America stopped 
all exporting of molasses, sugar, coffee, cocoa, or cotton 
to any other ports in the world. In addition, while the 
British agreed to evacuate the posts they were still oc- 
cupying and to confer on the settlement of the northeastern 
boundary, they refused to yield to America her full rights 
on the sea. The best that can be said, even today, of the 



STARTING RIGHT 

treaty is that it postponed war for another round doz&n 
years. But the outraged American people in 1795 did not 
stop to consider that. Instead, they heaped abuse on top 
of abuse on John Jay and President Washington, 

In the meantime, settlements had extended on and on to 
the west until the trade from those settlements demanded 
a free passage of the Mississippi down to the Gulf of 
Mexico. While the United States commanded that freedom 
part way, the Spanish had the rights of trade at the 
mouth of the river, thus causing delay and expense in 
the transfer of United States products to ocean-going 
vessels. Washington, therefore, sent Thomas Pinckney to 
negotiate a treaty with Spain for a clear passage the full 
length of the stream. Pinckney was successful, and the 
western frontier immediately began to grow more prosperous. 

The very fact that such a treaty was needed is a measure 
of how America was extending its power in those early 
years. The problems which had faced George Washington 
back in 1787, were now fairly well solved. Even the one of 
getting the people to pay taxes levied by the Federal govern- 
ment had been settled by putting down the Whiskey 
Rebellion. Everywhere within America's borders, life 
was growing easier. And even foreign powers were be-' 
ginning to pay respect to the young, new nation. 



PERHAPS all of this was why George Washington felt 
that his work was completed. At any rate, he announced 
he would not be a candidate for a third term. That done 
he delivered his famous Farewell Address to his people, 
and rode off again down through Virginia toward home, 
leaving John Adams to meet what lay ahead. Did he feel 
satisfied with what lay back of him? Did he feel any un^ 
easiness over the bitter outbreaks already occurring over 

21 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

slavery? Did he sense that, as the years passed, the young 
government would add responsibilities? No doubt he did 
both think and feel all of that. 

But he was now sixty-five. He had not had many seasons 
to do what he wanted to do at Mt. Vernon. He meant to 
have them now. And he had for barely a short two 
years. Even in that brief time his quiet was threatened 
when it seemed as if France and America would go to war 
and as if George Washington would have to ride out 
again as commander-in-chief. But that trouble blew over 
and he hurried again to his farming, his generous hospital- 
ity, his many friends coming from all parts of the world to 
see and talk with him at Mt. Vernon. 

Then, just when life seemed richest to him, the end came. 
On December 12, 1799, while riding several miles from 
home, he was caught in a heavy snow storm. The next day 
he developed laryngitis. Two days later he said to those 
about him: 

"I thank you for your attentions, but I cannot last 
long. I pray you, let me go off quietly." 

Calling his secretary he put all of his affairs quietly in 
order as had been his lifelong custom. That done, he went to 
sleep. 

When the news of his death reached England, all feeling 
of enmity vanished in memory of the kindly man who had 
made even surrender a gracious possibility for his foe. 
In France, those who had fought with him mourned as 
America's own soldiers mourned. And as the years pass- 
over a century and more of them men and women from 
all over his own land, from all over the world, continue to 
pay never-ending tribute to the spot whore he sleeps at 
Mt. Vernon. 

22 



IL JOHN ADAMS 



ANY man following George Washington as president was 
bound to have a difficult time. Not only had the whole 
country expected Washington to do the right and wise 
thing, but as a rule his experience and knowledge had led 
him to do what was expected. What was more, he had done 
it with tact and graciousness so as to keep the affection 
and respect even of those who opposed him. His successor 
had need, therefore, to be all that George Washington 
had been, and, even more, to meet the approval of 
America. 

Now, John Adams, left by Washington to meet the next 
four years as president, had plenty of experience, plenty of 
knowledge; but, unfortunately, he lacked tact and gracious" 
ness, and so, right at the beginning, suffered. 

Of course, John Adams could not help his stern nature 
any more than Washington could his more generous one. 
John Adams was a New Englander; George Washington a 
Virginian. That being so, they were as widely different as 
old Puritan and old Church of England stock could make 
them. But they were alike unmistakably alike in one 
quality, and that was their deep, unwavering loyalty to the 
welfare of young America. 

The Adams family, like that of the Washingtons, had 
come over to the new land early in the seventeenth century. 
But, because they had chosen to settle with their Puritan 
brethren up along the Massachusetts Bay coast, they had 
not found life quite so easy as 4 the Virginian family had. 
Landing with a few kitchen utensils, one silver spoon, and 
several precious old books, they had established their home 
in a three-room house set down on thin, rocky soil. 

23 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

Although both lads grew up among people who rever- 
enced England and her constitution, a constitution giving 
the right of representation wherever her flag flew, the 
town where John Adams was born, old Braintree, was even 
more alive to that right than the Virginia valley of George 
Washington's early life. Still further, no family in Braintree 
had a better understanding of what that right meant than 
the Adams family. 

Perhaps because he was so keenly alive to his rights as a 
citizjen, perhaps because the small fortune of six thousand 
dollars, accumulated in the new land, made education seem 
wise, John Adams" father decided to send his son to 
Harvard. John, therefore, took his full college course, and 
graduated when he was nineteen just at the very time 
George Washington was trying his strength of young 
leadership out along the far western wilderness of Virginia's 
territory. 

After finishing college, John Adams, like many another 
New England youth, studied law and was admitted to the 
bar. It was only a few years kter that James Otis thundered 
forth his argument on England's violation of American 
rights, and that the young lawyer in writing his report 
of that argument, became convinced that Great Britain 
must respect those rights or lose her new colonies. 

He must have convinced others that he was thinking 
straight, for in 1765, when the Stamp Act brought protest, 
John Adams was chosen to draw up the instructions sent 
by the town of Braintree to the Massachusetts legislature. 

Those instructions were sufficiently sound to appeal not 
only to that legislature but to others as well and so directed 
the policies of other districts. In the meantime, John Adams 
had attacked the Stamp Act in an article published in the 
Boston Gazette. The attack was so forcibly and intelligently 

24 



STARTING RIGHT 

written that it attracted British attention and was re*- 
published in a London paper. All of this activity not only 
brought young Adams before his own state in a very 
favorable light, but caused his fame to spread through the 
other colonies and even across the Atlantic to startle old 
England. 

And, then, he did something curiously characteristic of 
him and his whole family: he defended, as a lawyer, the 
British soldiers arrested for taking part in the Boston 
Massacre. Quite naturally American colonists did not like 
that, and John Adams, then and there, felt the first blast of 
public disapproval. Nevertheless, he went straight ahead 
in face of that disapproval, clearly, logically presenting the 
case with the result that most of the British soldiers accused 
were freed from the accusations. By so doing he forced his 
fellow citizens to recognise that justice was due even an 
enemy. He, also, caused them to recognise that his ability 
was needed in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. 

From that House, three years later, he was sent by 
Massachusetts to represent her in the first Continental 
Congress. She had reason to be proud of his record, not 
only in that congress but through succeeding years. His 
college and law background, plus his practical experience 
in the town meetings of Massachusetts, made him a most 
valuable man in that group laying the foundation for a new 
nation. Unlike George Washington, he was, from the very 
beginning, impatient to separate from Great Britain. He was 
not only impatient, he was sure that separation had to 
come. Because he saw all of that, he urged the Continental 
Congress to prepare for war. When, at last, the news of 
Lexington and Concord proved he was right and a motion 
was made to send Washington as commander-in-chief to 
take charge of the Colonial Army, he was on his feet 

27 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

instantly to second the motion. And that was when he 
wrote his wife: 

"Let us eat potatoes and drink water!" 

thus urging that every sacrifice be made to help win the 
Revolution. 

The next year, 1776, when Richard Henry Lee presented 
his famous resolution: 

"That these United Colonies are, and of right 
ought to be Free and Independent States." 

no member of the whole Congress was more eloquent or 
forcible in urging its acceptance than John Adams. Of 
course, he was immediately put on a committee with 
Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Philip Livingston, 
and Roger Sherman to draft the Declaration of Independ" 
ence. At the same time he served as head of the Board of 
War and Ordnance and as a member of several other 
important committees. 

It was in tlje very midst of all this activity, on December 
3, 1777, that he received word he was to go to France to 
serve on the American commission negotiating with the 
French for help against the British. But by the time Adams, 
in those days of slow travel, reached the French court, the 
treaty, except for certain details, was already settled. 
With his downright honesty, he was at a disadvantage with 
the cleverly wary diplomats he met. Naturally, he did not 
like them and very certainly they did not Hke his blunt 
attacks. As a result, America recalled him. 

On his return home, he found his own state struggling 
to draw up a constitution and immediately began to help. 
Before he had gome far in that, he was asked by the Gon<* 
tinental Cdhgress to go back to Europe to work with John 

28 



STARTING RIGHT 

Jay and Benjamin Franklin on a treaty of peace, which, 
it was hoped, would soon be needed to end the American 
Revolution. 

Now, the instructions to the committee were that France 
was to be included in all pkns and nothing concluded 
without her knowledge. Instead of following those instruc- 
tions, Jay and Adams dealt directly with England, ignored 
France entirely, and outvoted Franklin at every turn. 
While their procedure was certainly very high-handed, 
everyone, later, decided the two had shown good common 
sense and real foresight. 

In the meantime, before the work of the treaty was done, 
Adams had gone to The Hague to try to get the Nether- 
lands to recognize the United States as an independent 
nation; to negotiate a treaty of friendship and trade with 
foreign countries; and, what was even of more importance, 
to secure a loan. He was successful in all three attempts. 

Because of this record, John Adams, two years after the 
close of the American Revolution, was sent as minister to 
the Court of St. James. Again his abrupt honesty, his 
fearlessness, shown particularly at a time when Engknd 
needed a tactful handling following her defeat in America, 
caused him to be quite generally disliked. That dislike was 
shared by his own countrymen shortly afterwards, when 
he wrote that "the rich, the able, the wellborn" should be 
given greater power in the Senate. In a nation just estab- 
lished by a declaration that "All men are created equal, 11 
such a statement from one who had helped make that 
declaration, created nothing short of an uproar. 

Nevertheless, he went right along, after his return home, 
helping draw up the Constitution of the United States, 
ably meeting all attacks and generally holding up the hands 
of Washington who was sitting as chairman of the Constitu- 

29 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

tional Convention. As a result, despite his lack of popularity , 
when, according to that Constitution, candidates were 
announced for president, the names of Washington and 
Adams headed the list. In compliance with the election 
rules of the time, the one of those two to receive the 
greater number of electoral votes, would become the first 
president of the United States; the other, the first 
vice-president. 



AND so, because he received the second largest number of 
votes, John Adams became vice-president to serve with 
Washington throughout the first two administrations. He 
had never stood second to anyone before in his active life. 
Of course he: was not happy in the position. But he was 
deeply devoted to the success of the new nation; he was 
deeply interested in seeing the Constitution set safely to 
running; and he was sensible enough to know that a man 
with his knowledge of constitutional kw would be very 
necessary through those first years in starting the new 
government running safely. 

No doubt he did his part well in those first eight years 
with Washington. Even when most disagreeable, he was 
quite likely to be entirely right in what he aimed to do. Of 
course, he constantly offended those with whom he had 
worked leaders of his own Federalist party, as well as 
those of the opposing one the Republicans. Nevertheless, 
he held the respect of the common people throughout the 
country; held it regardless of his well-known belief that 
those people were not fitted to have a part in the central 
government. 

Because he did command that respect, when George 
Washington refused a third term as president, it was Adams 

30 



STARTING RIGHT 

who was first choice for the place. Thomas Jefferson was 
second. And so, the Adams administration started off very 
differently from that of Washington; for instead of having 
everyone with him, as Washington had had, John Adams" 
own vice-president was the leader of the opposing political 
party. To add to that handicap, Adams had long before 
fallen out with Alexander Hamilton, leader of his own, the 
Federalist party. What could he hope to accomplish against 
such odds? 

If he had had only that home tangle to straighten out, 
his hands would have been quite full enough. But, added 
to that, he was faced by anger in France over Americans 
failure to side with that country in the war the French and 
British were waging. Scarcely was he seated in the presi- 
dential chair when news came that the American minister 
had been asked to leave Paris. 

Such an act on the part of France was quite enough to 
call for a declaration of war from America. John Adams, 
however, cared more for the uninterrupted growth of his 
young country than he did for any such exhibition of 
national pride. So he sent a commission to Paris to try to 
establish the old friendly relations there. The members of 
that commission were met with dispatches signed X, Y, 
and Z demanding money as a price of receiving the 
commission. Of course, the members refused. Immediately, 
they were ordered to leave France. 

In those days of slow travel, it took five months for the 
news of all this to reach America. But when it did, John 
Adams rose in all of his might and said to Congress: 

"I shall never send another minister to France 
without assurance that he will be received, 
respected, and honored as a representative of a 
great, free, powerful, and independent nation.' 1 

31 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

Of course, feeling ran bitterly high against France. And 
that was when George Washington, living his quiet life down 
at Mt. Vernon, was asked again to be commander'in-chief 
of the American army; this time in a war against France. 

It was also the time when work was pushed vigorously 
on building the new navy; taxes rose in proportion. And 
still further, it was the time when the famous Alien and 
Sedition Acts of 1798 were passed by Congress, whereby 
immigration was cut off for a number of years; difficulties 
were put in the way of all foreigners wanting to become 
American citizens; and suspicion was directed against all 
citizens of enemy countries living within the borders of 
the United States. 

The Republicans in Congress fought these acts as 
opposed to the ideals for which the American Revolution 
had been fought, and, even after they became laws, separate 
states passed resolutions against them. In those resolutions 
appeared, for the first time, a clearly thought out, forcible 
expression of the rights of states to act independently of 
the Federal government. That expression was later to grow; 
in strength and to bring tragedy to the Union. 

So far as can be judged to'day, John Adams was not at 
any time as much concerned with the Alien or Sedition 
Acts, or the resolutions concerning state rights, as he was 
with avoiding war with France. Therefore, when France, 
embarrassed over the contents of the X, Y, and Z papers, 
sent a message to the United States, promising to receive 
an American envoy "as the representative of a great, free, 
powerful, and independent nation," he immediately seised 
his chance to reestablish friendly rektions. What was more, 
he did not so much as consult his own cabinet before he 
presented to Congress the names of men he thought wise 
to form a new commission to France. 

32 



STARTING RIGHT 

And, despite a storm of disapproval, that commission 
went to France, was received as Adams had hoped it would 
be, and negotiated a treaty, which, on the whole, was 
satisfactory both to America and to France. War a most 
disastrous war- had been averted, and John Adams largely 
deserved the credit for averting it. 

But, in accomplishing that for America, he had completely 
offended his own party, the Federalists. He had, at the same 
time, given the Republicans plenty of ammunition to use 
against him in the coming election. In the face of all this, 
however, he still held his high place with the American 
people who knew him for a mercilessly fearless and honest 
man who was doing his best to serve America -just as he 
had done that best throughout more than a score of years 
before. So, in spite of the opposition of party leaders, he 
was again chosen the Federalist candidate for president. 

And was defeated defeated largely because of intrigue 
against him within his own party. But that party paid the 
price of their disloyalty when the Republicans, taking 
advantage of the Federalist split, elected Thomas Jefferson 
president. To offset his defeat, John Adams backed by 
Congress, proceeded to fill newly created positions, as well 
as vacancies, in government employ, from Federalist ranks. 
That done, he departed departed early on the morning of 
March 4, 1801, without so much as waiting to hear Thomas 
Jefferson take the oath as third president of the United 
States. 

He, like Washington, now went back to his home, a home 
in Quincy, Massachusetts. There he lived, more or less 
quietly, for twenty-five years. As those years passed, he 
must have taken real satisfaction in seeing the nation which 
he, standing shoulder to shoulder with George Washington, 
had so earnestly and laboriously tried to start on its way 

33 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

on towards the goal he had seen, and still saw shining, so 
clearly far down in the future. 

Perhaps he had always caught this vision a little more 
clearly than George Washington or John Adams the 
radiant vision of a knd where men were born with an equal 
chance to work, to live, to be happy. If he did see all that 
more vividly, it was partly, no doubt, because he belonged 
to the land of the Blue Ridge frontier rather than that of 
George Washington or of the thrifty Adams family up in 
New Engknd. Men breathed a more vigorous air, lived a 
harder life in Albemarle County, Virginia, than they did 
in the older settlements to the east. Out in that rougher 
frontier life to the west, money was not half so much 
needed as strong, reliable, resourceful people. What a man's 
family was, meant next to nothing providing that man him- 
self measured up to the demands of life measured honestly, 
fearlessly, generously. If a man did that, his neighbor 
respected and honored him. 

And Thomas Jefferson was born among those men. 
Peter Jefferson, his own father, belonged to one of those 
staunch country families. As a civil engineer, he was 
known far and wide for his satisfactory settling of boundary 
lines. As a citizen he must have stood high for he was 
elected justice of the peace, colonel of the county militia, 
and representative in the Virginia House of Burgesses. 
As a man, he must have been attractive in manners, fine 
in his personality, since he married one of the Virginia 
Randolphs an old, old family very highly respected for 
its social standing, even in those rough days of the 
wilderness. 

It was from this home that Thomas went to the College 
of William and Mary to study Latin, Greek, French, 
mathematics, and a little science. And to like it all. Because 

36 



EXTENDING BOUNDARIES 

he did like to work, he managed his days so well that he 
not only stood high in his regular class work, but also 
became an excellent violinist, took part as a brilliant talker 
in different college groups, and added to his wide popularity 
by singing well, dancing well, and sharing in all out-of-door 
sports particularly those demanding a knowledge and love 
of thoroughbred horses. 

When Thomas left college at twenty, he began to study 
law as many another young American did in those days. 
But instead of skimming through the course in a few weeks 
or months at the most 1 as some of his friends did, he 
studied hard for five years before he was admitted to the 
bar. As a result of this careful preparation, he soon built 
up one of the best practices in Virginia. But because he was 
more interested in helping to make good laws than he was 
in defending poor ones, he soon turned his attention to 
the political field where he could have a part in making them. 

Fortunately his father had left him an estate of nineteen 
hundred acres, which, by the time he was thirty, he had 
increased to five thousand. When he married Martha 
Wayles, a lovely, accomplished young widow, her father 
added enough land to what Jefferson already had to bring 
the young people an income suited to their needs. Those 
needs, of course, included a home equal to that of other 
hospitable, social Virginians. In all of his long life of public 
service, Thomas Jefferson like Washington never failed 
to think of that home with longing; never failed to go back 
to it with deep joy. 



BUT the very income that made his home beautiful also 
made it possible for Thomas Jefferson to give more time to 
politics. Like his father, he began his career as justice of the 

39 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

peace, and, like him also, became later a member of the 
Virginia House of Burgesses. He stayed in that assembly 
for six successive years, 1769 to 1775, a strong member, who 
hated debates, worked promptly, actively on committees, 
and soon attracted attention by his forcible, simple manner 
of writing. 

This kst accomplishment was what brought him, first, 
not only national, but international fame. As it happen- 
ed, he was ill at home when the first convention was called, 
in 1774, to discuss Great Britain's treatment of America. 
Now, Thomas Jefferson had very decided opinions con' 
cerning that matter, so, sick abed as he was, he set 
those opinions down in a paper he called "A Summary of 
the Rights of America." 

The paper wasted no words in saying what those rights 
were. As a result it was published in America exactly 
as it was written, and then in England with some changes, 
to make it, perhaps, a little more acceptable to British eyes. 
Immediately, as rapidly as men of the Old and the New 
Worlds read the "Summary," Jefferson reared high as a 
leader whom England had cause to fear and America cause 
to rejoice in. 

Further, that summary led, in the next year, to Virginia's 
selecting Thomas Jefferson to represent her in the Con- 
tinental Congress. There he was chosen to draw up the 
answer to Lord North's plan to make peace with the 
American colonies. As everybody knows, not only that 
plan but every other one following failed to make peace. 
No doubt many men of that time knew that a break with 
England was bound to come. And, certainly, no one among 
them knew that earlier than Thomas Jefferson; not only 
knew it but planned what to do when the crisis finally came. 
And so he must have been quite naturally chosen to draw 

40 



EXTENDING BOUNDARIES 

up the American Declaration of Independence. How he 
must have gloried in the trust given him. Back of him ky 
those long-ago days of his boyhood when he had seen men 
along the frontier win out through natural ability just 
because the opportunity to work and be happy was equally 
open to all. Back of him, also, lay his years of study, giving 
him a vision that reached out beyond the frontier out 
even beyond the Atlantic coast and over to the Old World 
lying beyond. And more than all that, there lay behind 
him his years of mingling with the men who were giving 
the best there was in them to forming plans for America's 
welfare. Is it any wonder then that he should begin by 
declaring that all men have "certain unalienable Rights, 
that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of 
Happiness"? Is it any wonder that he should conclude 
reverently: 

"And for the support of this Declaration, with 
a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Provi- 
dence, we mutually pledge each other our Lives, 
our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor/' 1 

And having done that, he straightway refused reelection 
to the Continental Congress; refused, also, to join Benjamin 
Franklin and Silas Dean on a mission to France; and went 
back to Virginia, in order to work on reforming the laws 
of his own state. How could he do otherwise? The laws 
certainly needed reforming if they were to meet the ideals 
set forth in the Declaration. For example, there was the 
one that provided for the passing on of a large portion of 
family property to the eldest son. Such a law worked 
against an equal distribution of wealth which, in time 
worked against equal opportunities to achieve "Life, 
Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Also, among those 

< " 41 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

kws were others limiting freedom of worship and compelling 
the people of Virginia to pay taxes toward the support 
of the established Church the Church of England. 

Both of these laws were finally changed to his satisfaction. 
But when he tried to get the state to free its slaves, he failed. 
He did, however, manage to get a bill passed forbidding 
any future importation of them. Also, he turned public 
opinion toward better treatment of criminals, even if he 
did not succeed in abolishing certain punishment which he 
desired to abolish. Another bill very dear to his heart was 
one providing that every child, rich or poor, should have 
an equal chance for an education. That bill also failed, 
failed because there was no middle class to support it and 
the rich planters were not interested in it. But, again, 
Jefferson was fairly successful since he roused his public to 
think of free education as one of the things necessary to 
keep faith with the ideals set forth by him and those who 
were working with him. 

He kept steadily following these lines for three years. 
In the meantime, the Revolution had reached its most 
discouraging stage, particularly in the South. It was then, 
in 1779, that Jefferson found himself elected governor of 
Virginia. He was now in a position to execute some of the 
laws he had helped to form. He served his first term and 
was reelected. But during his second term he became un- 
popular because he failed, for some reason, to protect 
Virginia against British troops who were then running 
wild over the state. When, therefore, his name was brought 
up for a third term, he refused reelection. 

But he did not refuse to return to Congress. That is 
why we find him there at the close of the Revolution as 
chairman of the committee to draw up terms of peac& with 
Great Britain. Later, after that peace was concluded and 

42 



EXTENDING BOUNDARIES 

the new government found itself very rich in possibilities, 
but with scarcely a copper it could call its own to develop 
those possibilities, he reported the plan for our present 
monetary system. In the very same session, he also reported 
a plan for governing the new territories opening out beyond 
the Appalachian Mountains, and about the same time sue- 
ceeded in getting Virginia to turn her possessions northwest 
of the Ohio River over to the Federal government. 

Right then and there, he stood up head and shoulders 
above those about him; stood up to lift his eyes from the 
Atlantic coast and gase out toward the west with some 
appreciation of what it promised for America when she 
was ready to claim that promise. What is more, he saw far 
enough ahead, Virginian though he was, to include in his 
recommendations for governing the new western settle- 
ment, a clause prohibiting slavery in them. 

In the midst of these new dreams of extending Americans 
resources westward, he was asked to turn his back on 
them and to go over to France to help Benjamin Franklin 
and John Adams negotiate certain commercial treaties with 
European governments. He decided to go. As a result he 
not only helped get commercial benefits for the United 
States, but, later, took Franklin's place as minister to 
France and did much in his four years in that position to 
make all Europe understand and respect America. 

In addition, he saw the French in the midst of their 
Revolution saw them struggling to gain the equality and 
liberty he had all his life considered the right of all people. 
All of his understanding and sympathy went out to them. 
So much so, that, when he came home in 1789, he fully 
expected to go back and do what he could for the French. 
But George Washington, as first president, was just taking 
on the responsibility of guiding the new American republic. 

43 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

Who had the power to see more clearly than Thomas 
Jefferson what lay ahead to be done? No one, in Washing- 
ton's mind. Neither was there any one he knew who could 
more surely put into practical action what he knew than 
Thomas Jefferson could. So he asked Jefferson to be the 
first secretary of state. And Jefferson, reluctantly giving up 
his own desire to go back and help France, accepted. 

Immediately he was plunged into all sorts of difficulties. 
Chief among which was his inability to get along with 
Alexander Hamilton whom, as will be remembered, Wash- 
ington had made secretary of the United States treasury. 
No two men could have been more different than Jefferson 
and Hamilton were Hamilton, every inch an aristocrat, 
chief of the Federalist Party, calling for a strong central 
government headed by rich and well-educated men to the 
exclusion of those less fortunate; Jefferson, fearlessly 
democratic, leading what was then called the Republican 
Party which wanted to give every state its own right to 
say how the government should be run. 

To make matters worse, in the struggle then going on 
between England and France, Hamilton favored the 
English, while Jefferson was heart and soul with the French. 
Washington, as we know, stood between the two men, 
trying to be fair to both, trying to keep America free from . 
foreign entanglement. As time passed, however, Jefferson 
began- to feel that Washington preferred Hamilton^ judg" 
ment to his. That, on top of the need tp look after his own 
affairs, finally led him to resign from the cabinet. So far as 
his financial situation was concerned, he did not resign a 
second too soon. While in France he had been forced to 
spend his own money. At the same time, he had not been 
able to develop his property at home. So now, as he turned 
his back on public affairs, he must have welcomed the 

44 



EXTENDING BOUNDARIES 

chance to go home to Monticello and catch up with his 
private demands. And he stayed there for three years, 
experimenting in farming, building up his run-down estate, 
and being simply, completely happy among his own kin and 
neighbors. 



BUT Thomas Jefferson was the leading man of his political 
party. What is more, that party knew it only too well. 
Of course its leaders were not going to allow him to go on 
living the life of a country gentleman. And so, in 1796, 
he left the quiet, spacious, lovely house at Monticello for 
the strenuous presidential campaign of that year. Of course, 
also, he headed the Republican ticket and, as we already 
know, headed it in opposition to his old friend, John 
Adams, who had so brilliantly championed his Jefferson's 
draft of the Declaration of Independence. The fight was 
a good one. In the end, Adams, leading in the number of 
votes received, became President; Jefferson coming in 
second, became, according to the custom, vice-president. 
And once more the two joined forces to make their earlier 
plans develop. 

Jefferson soon found his chief activity in helping to 
adjust trouble with France. War with that country was 
now actually threatened. American sympathy with the 
French in their efforts to gain greater liberty added to the 
seriousness of the situation. At last President Adams, as 
will be remembered, had to curb that sympathy and the 
Alien Laws were passed whereby all foreign immigration 
was restricted. At the same time the Sedition Laws went 
through, restricting freedom in speech and press. 

Quite naturally, Jefferson, with his ideals of freedom, 
objected to both of these. What is more, he knew that 

45 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

others objected also; others who had no chance under the 
existing strong central power to express themselves. To 
give them that chance, he helped draft the Virginia and 
Kentucky Resolutions voicing opposition to the objection- 
able laws. Those resolutions were accepted by the state 
legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky, but were fiercely 
denounced in the North. 

The bitterness increased on into the next presidential 
campaign when Jefferson ran for president against Aaron 
Burr. That bitterness reached its peak when the two leaders 
tied, each with seventythree electoral votes. Congress was 
left to decide which should be president. Angered at the 
possibility of losing their power, the Federalists put forth 
every effort to elect Burr. But after thirty-six ballots were 
cast, Jefferson undeniably won. 

Fortunately, Thomas Jefferson knew that in spite of this 
bitter opposition by Federalist leaders, the country at 
large really wanted him to be president. Perhaps, as one 
response to that country's faith, he immediately set about 
to express the democracy he had always claimed as the 
ideal of American life and government. To start with, he 
announced there would be no splendor of silks and satins, 
no coaches and fours at his inauguration. Instead, dressed 
in simple, plain black, he walked to the Capitol to take the 
oath of president. With his tall, raw-boned figure, with his 
ruddy, sandy complexion, with all of his love of music, of 
color, and vigorous action, he might easily have made a 
dramatic event of the day, particularly so as his inauguration 
was the first to take place in the nation's new Capitol afr^ 
Washington. 

But Thomas Jefferson wanted no misunderstanding about 
his democracy. He meant there should be none, either on 
that day or on any that followed through to the last of 

46 



EXTENDING BOUNDARIES 

his eight years as president. And just as he stripped his 
own office of all unnecessary ceremony, all wasting of time, 
all extra expense, he likewise saw to it that every govern- 
ment department followed his example. 

And then, having set up that standard of economy at 
Washington, he stood up and with a magnificant sweep 
startled the land with his action. Off went a fleet down to 
Tripoli and Tripoli decided to treat American demands 
with prompt deference. Off went James Monroe, his old 
friend, to help Robert Livingston, American minister to 
France, negotiate with Napoleon for the purchase of a 
strip of the Gulf coast, extending east from the Mississippi 
and including New Orleans. And, when, cornered by 
Napoleon, the two representatives bought in pkce of that 
strip the whole of the stretch known as /Louisiana for 
$15,000,000, Jefferson, no matter how appalled he may have 
been, stood back of the purchase like a stone wall. Not 
only stood back of it, but sent the Lewis and Clark Expedi- 
tion out to report on the riches of the new territory and 
so to justify him and his friends in the eyes of his people. 
Now, at last, he claimed, the new republic so long cramped 
along the sea coast, so long bickering for water rights along 
the Mississippi, could stretch out and begin to grow as it 
was meant to grow. 

Of course, when the end of his first term came, Thomas 
Jefferson was reelected. Now those were the years of 
Aaron Burr's conspiracy and feeling ran high on the 
matter. Jefferson tried to ignore all of the rumors about 
his political rival; but at last when he could do so no 
longer, he ordered Burr's capture and trial. While this was 
an unpleasant duty, the public, generally speaking, was 
with him. Two other movements of his second administra^ 
tion could not boast of such support; although they were 

47 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

carried through. One of these had to do with Jefferson's 
Indian policy which included taking away the Red Man's 
land rights east of the Mississippi and forcing him to strike 
his long trail to the west. 

The other very unpopular move of this second four years 
was the result of Great Britain's efforts to gain indirect 
benefits from America's sea trade. The most objectionable 
of these was the attempt to seize American seamen and 
press them into English service. Matters went from bad to 
worse. At kst the British ship, Leopard, fired upon the 
American Chesapeake and captured three American citizens. 
Jefferson retaliated by an Embargo Act, which, while 
working loss on foreign trade, worked even greater financial 
loss on the young American industries rapidly growing up 
along the Atlantic seaports. 

Right in the midst of the outburst following this act, 
Jefferson's second term came to an end. Tired of political 
friction, he refused to run again and departed for Monticello. 
This time to stay; to stay and to live his own private Hfe 
as he wanted to live it. But to do that Jefferson needed 
money. Now, the salary of the president of the United 
States in those days was far below what was necessary to 
meet demands of the position. Thomas Jefferson certainly 
lived simply and yet he had to spend his own money if he 
met all that he should meet. Before those years in Washing' 
ton were his others in public life, others of travel and living 
abroad without proper income from his government to 
meet such expense. In addition, because of those years of 
absence from home, he had not been able to look after his 
own plantation. As a result, he found himself back at 
Monticello without money and facing a debt of $20,000. 

Even with that handicap, he not only went ahead trying 
to improve his run-down estate, but, at the same time, 

48 



EXTENDING BOUNDARIES 

developing his plans for the University of Virginia. Those 
plans were so far-reaching and yet so practical, that even 
though they had to wait long years for developing, they 
were widely influential with all educational leaders. One 
wishes that he might have lived to see his dream come true 
for that University. But his financial affairs went from bad 
to worse until seven years after he returned home, he was 
forced to sell his large and valuable library to Congress. 
After that, the public, his public whom he had served so 
powerfully raised $16,500 and turned it over to him to 
relieve the anxiety of his last years. 

Those years came to an end July 4, 1826, exactly half a 
century to the very day following that signing of the 
Declaration of Independence. Did he fully grasp how he 
had kept faith with the ideals he had set forth in that famous 
paper? Of course he had made his mistakes but never once 
had he failed to put first his belief that every man should 
have equal opportunity with every other man; never once 
had he failed to emphasize the right of every state to 
representation equal to every other state; never once had 
he forgotten that he himself came from a frontier beyond 
which lay still another frontier where men were measured 
by their own ability to serve their neighbor honestly, 
courageously, generously. 



49 



II. JAMES MADISON 



No man ever needed friends more than Thomas Jefferson 
did. Always fearless, always active, he needed wise friends, 
loyal ones, who saw far ahead what Jefferson saw and were 
willing to follow him, work for him, until what they and 
he saw could also be seen by the whole country and made a 
part of that country's growth. 

Among those friends was James Madison. Brilliant but 
quietly shy; fearless but wise in his fearlessness; from a 
Virginia family long settled among other old families near 
the head of Chesapeake Bay, James Madison possessed 
just the qualities needed to balance Thomas Jefferson's 
vigorously vital activity. And he gave what he possessed 
to his friend freely, continuously, for years. Thomas 
Jefferson, with his rare power for measuring men, not only 
took what Madison gave but paid him back by trusting 
him as few men ever are trusted. 

That friendship lasted through all of the give and take of 
public service together, never losing an atom of fineness 
during the eight years Madison served as President Jeffer" 
son's secretary of state; never swerving in its loyalty when 
Madison took the president's chair to carry out the policies 
Jefferson had established. 

No two boyhoods could have been more different than 
those of Jefferson and Madison. To be sure both were 
Virginians. Both were descendants of staunch old English-' 
men who had come over to the New World back in the 
sixteen hundreds. Both grew up on a plantation where 
life was pleasant. But where the Madisons had stopped 
and stayed, as so many did, close to the Atlantic coast, the 
Jeffersons had moved farther west where Hfe demanded a 

50 



EXTENDING BOUNDARIES 

defense, where a sturdier strength, a more vigorous inde- 
pendence was needed than in the sheltered valley of the 
Madison country. 

Quite naturally, Thomas Jefferson grew up to be much 
more sure of himself than James Madison could ever be. 
Besides, he was eight years older than James, which meant 
that when he was a recognised leader at William and Mary, 
James was only a small, rather frail boy back in King 
George county. Even then, however, he was rather a 
responsible one in his position as the oldest of a dosen 
brothers and sisters in the Madison household. 

One wonders when he first discovered Thomas Jefferson 
discovered him in his own mind and took him on then 
and there, quietly but none the less emphatically, to be his 
friend. That could have happened, and probably did, long 
before the two ever began working together. It might 
have happened even before Thomas so much as realized 
that James was there just waiting to find where he best 
fitted in to the older boy's vigorous life. For James Madison 
was that sort. He was made to serve even while knowing 
equally well how to lead. Perhaps that is why he first 
decided he would be a minister and so studied toward that 
end through his whole college life. 

Perhaps, also, it was that very college, the College of 
New Jersey, which had much to do with his changing his 
mind about his profession. For that college now Princeton 
University differed from those generally attended by 
Virginian boys down in their own state, where they met 
and knew only their own kind. On the other hand, up in 
the New Jersey college, a boy met and mingled with others 
from each of the thirteen different colonies. In those days 
of slow travel, few letters, and fewer printed pages, no one 
living on at home in his own part of the country could 

53 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

know what life was like, what people needed in other 
sections. But the Virginia boy from the Virginia plantation 
going to the New Jersey College suddenly found himself 
facing one of his own age from the fishing coast of New 
England, another from among the prosperous Dutch of 
New York, another of quiet Quaker reserve from 
Philadelphia. 

And they all talked. Some loudly and vividly; some 
James Madison among them more quietly and, perhaps, 
somewhat more wisely. Times were exciting. The Stamp 
Act had been passed and repealed. Other acts of oppression 
had followed. Every day, the colonists, whether from along 
Boston Bay, or along the Potomac, were growing stronger 
to resist English rule. And every day, the boys at the 
College of New Jersey, said their say, to a finish, concerning 
what should be done and how. 

James Madison was one among them at first, and then, 
just how or why, nobody ever quite knew, he was out 
ahead, leading his own particular club. That club was 
called the American Whig Society. No group anywhere 
could have burned with a more patriotic fire. What a 
glorious time they all had! How they flayed King George 
and debated the wrongs England was heaping upon them. 
All of that, of course, behind very tightly, very mysteriously 
closed doors; for the time had not yet come when even they 
dared talk out in the open against England's king* 

And no one among those boys had more decided opinions 
on how the government should be run than James Madison 
had. What is more, with all of his timidity he had a charm 
that won and held people so that in his own group he was 
able to express his opinion so brilliantly and forcibly that 
he was constantly bringing others to think as he thought. 
Even so, while fairly burning with the fire of bis own 

54 



EXTENDING BOUNDARIES 

patriotic feeling, he had apparently no thought of changing 
his life plan of entering the ministry. After graduating 
he stayed on a whole year at college studying for that 
profession. At the end of the year, however, he left. 
Following that he never talked of his earlier plans. 

Of course when he finally reached home he must have 
been very confused about what he wanted to do. No 
doubt that was why he found it impossible to fit into the 
gay society in and around his old Virginia home. Since 
that was so, he decided to leave and enter the army, but 
his health, which had often before that time interfered 
with his life out-of-doors, again interfered so that door was 
closed. Then he marked time, for a while, teaching his own 
brothers and sisters. 



BEING what he was, however, James Madison could not 
long keep out of public activity. Neither could he then, 
any more than in college, keep from heading his own 
particular group. At first that group was a Committee of 
Public Safety. By 1775 he was chairman of that committee. 
And in the next year 1776 when Thomas Jefferson was 
thinking out the Deckration of Independence up in Phik' 
delphia, he James Madison walked out into his first 
really important public service as a member of the Virginia 
Convention. He was then only twenty-five among the 
youngest men of the assembly. But despite his youth and 
despite the fact that he was still handicapped with his 
natural shyness, the same power, the same charm that had 
drawn his fellows to him in his college days, now drew 
men to trust him, and he was asked to help draft a con- 
stitution for Virginia and a resolution for greater religious 
freedom. 

55 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

Even so, even though he had won that place for himself 
and was renominated, he was defeated for reelection to the 
convention. Perhaps that was because his earlier training 
in the Church had filled him so full of responsibility concern- 
ing other men's behavior that he refused, in his campaign, 
to follow the usual custom of serving gin to his political 
supporters. Some people, however, said he was stingy. Others 
believed what was said and since nothing could be much 
worse than stinginess in the eyes of hospitable Virginians, 
those who believed voted against him. Others who hated, 
in those days as now, to see a rich man's son in a place of 
power joined the opposition. And James Madison lost. 

But, after all, that defeat may have been a good thing 
for James Madison as well as for his country. For, almost 
at once, he was chosen to be a member of the Council of 
State, a body looked upon with the highest respect as chief 
adviser to the Governor of Virginia. Straightway, James 
Madison was sought out in that body to prepare most of 
the Governor's papers and to become known as his most 
trusted counselor. 

From this council he went as a Virginia delegate to the 
Continental Congress. One of the questions most frequently 
and bitterly absorbing that Congress, then, was that of 
Virginia's navigation rights on the Mississippi. Those 
rights were vital to the colony since she claimed the territory 
extending from the Appalachians to that river., while 
Spain claimed the knd beyond. Naturally, the question 
concerning traffic going up and down the stream was always 
a difficult one to settle. John Jay, as we know, had been sent 
over to Spain to try to adjust it. Madison was now asked 
to draft instructions to Jay. And so he came to consider 
that western land as he never had considered it before. 
Was he surprised at its vastness, its promise of future 

56 



EXTENDING BOUNDARIES 

development? Did he right then and there tuck away in 
his mind certain resolves concerning it? If he did he said 
nothing, but by the time he and his group had completed 
their plans, each colony ckiming any of that land had 
relinquished their right to the Federal government to do 
with as seemed best for the good of that whole western 
valley. 

All of that time the Revolution was bringing Great 
Britain nearer to the Yorktown surrender and thus nearer 
to losing the thirteen colonies. Both those colonies and the 
settlements growing up in the west were going to need 
money once that surrender was made. Even before that, 
even right then in those closing days of the war, that need 
was almost too great for the leaders to face. James Madison, 
of course, knew that need, not only knew it but was working 
to meet it every second he had to spare from the proposition 
concerning those claims in the Mississippi valley. Finally, 
he produced a plan which proposed to tax imported goods 
for a term of years and to distribute the heavy interest on 
the national debt among the different states. 

All of this activity must have led him to think that he 
needed a knowledge of law. At any rate, he decided, at 
the close of his term in the Continental Congress, to go 
home and study the subject. The next year, however, he 
was back in the Virginia House of Delegates, where 
boundary disputes involving claims of Delaware and Penn- 
sylvania were rousing bitter discussion. 

Now according to James Madison's way of reasoning, 
the welfare of one or two states affected the welfare of all. 
Naturally, therefore, he proposed that a convention be 
called to which representatives of all the states should be 
invited. His proposition ended in the Annapolis Convention 
of 1786, which, in its turn, resulted in one at Philadelphia 

57 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

the next year. It was at the Philadelphia Convention that 
James Madison presented what is called the Virginia 
Plan. That plan furnished the basis for the Constitution 
of the United States. 

As everybody knows, the Constitution was drawn up 
and finally ratified; Washington became the first president; 
and the first House of Representatives assembled. Perhaps, 
however, not everybody knows that James Madison was 
a member of that first House or that he stayed right on as a 
member from 1789 to 1797- Perhaps, also, not everybody 
knows that it was during those years he made his very 
first public speech. Anyone, however, who did know him 
then would be sure that the only thing which could break 
down his shyness and cause him to speak, would be some 
need more vital than any he had ever met before. And it 
was vital, vital to him because it was vital to the carrying 
out of the Constitution. That need was money, money 
first, followed by the necessity of getting the machinery of 
government correctly set up and that by another necessity 
for making amendments to the Constitution, which he, in 
his quiet wisdom, already saw should be amended. 

At the end of those long years in the House of Repre* 
sentatives, he wanted to go home and stay there. He had 
married Dorothy Payne Todd famous, fascinating Dolly 
Madison three years before. Montpelier, his lovely, quiet 
old Virginia estate, was waiting for him. He needed all 
of the rest that home could give him. 

So he went home. But he no sooner reached there than 
the whole country was thrown into turmoil over the Alien 
and Sedition Laws. What could he do but hurry off to 
join his friend Thomas Jefferson, then, as vice-president, 
leading the opposition right in the face of the fact that those 
laws were considered advisable by President Adams? And 

58 



EXTENDING BOUNDARIES 

what did Virginia do but elect James Madison to the state 
legiskture right in the midst of the battle. 



AND then Thomas Jefferson became president. At once he 
called James Madison to work with him as his secretary of 
state. Throughout the whole eight years of Jefferson^s 
administration the small, quiet, very courteous, very scholarly 
Madison stood back of his friend to make that administration 
stand out as one of active, desirable progress. Of course 
those two started many activities that could not be finished 
in eight years. No doubt that was the chief reason Jefferson 
let the United States see that he thought Madison was the 
one man above all others best fitted to complete alone what 
they had started together. 

Evidently the United States agreed with him and James 
Madison was elected president; elected to face an outraged 
America shouting to have Jefferson's Embargo Acts lifted, 
to have England's high-handed sea policies ended. In fact 
the country preferred war to such indignities. To make 
matters worse, the new President had, for political reasons, 
to appoint Robert Smith, entirely opposed to him, as his 
secretary of state. The future must have loomed dark to 
James Madison in those early days of his presidency. 

And that future grew darker as the days passed. He was 
able, however, to hold out against war until 1812. That 
war and his own second term began in the same year. 
And his troubles increased accordingly. He had known 
all along that the country was not prepared for war. He had 
warned those urging him to fight that disaster would 
follow such an attempt. But even so when all that he had 
prophesied came true, and America's land forces met 
defeat after defeat, James Madison's shoulders were heaped 

59 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

high with the burden of blame. Fortunately those defeats 
were partly offset by the victories on water where the 
American navy burst forth in unexpected brilliance and 
strength. In the end, England restored her gains to America; 
America -restored hers to England; and neither seemed to 
remember the original cause of the quarrel. 

But James Madison must have looked out in helpless 
sorrow over battlefields where thirty thousand American 
men had given their lives, and where an equal number, at 
least, had been crippled so that life never again could be 
the free, happy thing it had been before. He must also have 
looked with dismay at the enormous debt shadowing the 
slender young treasury. But anyone knowing James Madison 
also knows that he, while recognising all of the tragedy 
the war had brought, would also look up and out toward 
the Old World with a grim satisfaction in what he saw. 

For all of Europe was now stirring uneasily over the 
strength the new American nation had shown in handling 
herself and her enemy from 1812 to 1814. Before that time, 
not all of the oversea rulers had taken America seriously. 
Following it, those same rulers certainly assumed a new 
and wholesome deference toward her. Whether it was her 
brilliant sea-fighting strength; whether her skill in handling 
trade; whether her shrewd diplomatic power; or whether 
it was all of these things together no one could tell But 
an enormous strength had somehow or other grown up 
in amazing swiftness during the very days of the war. 

And James Madison sensed that the Old World realised 
such was the case. With that to comfort him, with the 
new lands out to the west opening up in greater wealth 
than even he and Jefferson had hoped, with the Consti" 
tution working well in its execution of the pkns he and his 
friends had labored to make, James Madison felt he could 

60 



EXTENDING BOUNDARIES 

now go home. So he refused a third term and went back to 
Virginia. * 

And he had twenty years more in which to live his 
own life as he wanted to live it there. What did he do? He 
fanned much as Thomas Jefferson did, trying out experi- 
ments, developing his land, and through 'all of that work 
just as through all of his public work, he kept hunting on 
to the end of his life for ways and means to help not only 
himself but all of America, all of mankind. 



61 



Chapter III 

ON GUARD 



I. JAMES MONROE 



A ND now, after Jefferson and Madison, still another 
JL\ man came up from Virginia to sit in the president's 
chair, not only another Virginian, but another friend of 
Thomas Jefferson whom he had trusted with many very 
important missions. Also, a friend of James Madison who 
had served as secretary of war and then as secretary of 
state during some of the most troublesome years of the 
Madison administration, This man was James Monroe. 

Added to this valuable experience of working closely 
with two presidents at home was that of working among 
government circles abroad. To be sure he had made many 
a sad mistake in his public Hfe. In fact, for years he was 
known more for fumbling than he was for winning his 
game. But he was the sort that learned through his own 
fumbling, the sort that, instead of being daunted by blame, 
studied himself to see why he was blamed. Usually he found 
out and being honest, hard-working, and ready to make 
amends, he was given other chances. Finally, he walked 
out to stand securely in public favor, a trusted, capable 
leader, who could and did accomplish much more than 
many a man more gifted than he. 

Ajid America needed just such a man at that time, 
a man who knew all the needs of his own land just getting 
her bearings after the War of 1812; a man who knew 

62 



ON GUARD 



none better than he how that land was beginning to 
be measured by shrewd foreign governments. There was 
the new territory opening rapidly out to the west. There 
was the growing and valuable trade looming high along 
the eastern coast. And to the north and the south just 
beyond boundaries of the United States, lay other nations 
and colonies who, because they were weaker, tempted 
Old World powers to come over and try to gain a firmer 
foothold on the new continent. There was no question 
about it. America had now become a world power in 
herself, with a promise of far greater power lying ahead. 
As such, she must pay the price of guarding that power. 
Could she do it? Was she yet strong enough? James Monroe 
was now to have the chance to find out. Of what stuff was 
he made to meet such a challenge? 

To begin with he was of Scotch descent, and evidently 
from a family whose blood ran red with the staunch adventur- 
ous spirit of that sturdy old nation. That family had already 
lived in the new land of America over a century when 
James was born in 1758. Like the Washingtons they liked 
the Potomac valley in Virginia and there they had settled. 
There they had stayed generation after generation. 

James Monroe grew up hearing all of the talk of that 
valley. And that talk never flamed higher with patriotism 
than when James was a boy. His own kin as well as his 
neighbors were riding back and forth from the Continental 
Congress where men were actually planning to resist King 
George^s high-handed oppression. Right in the midst of 
all that controversy, when he was only sixteen, James 
started to attend the College of William and Mary. And 
there he found the feeling against Great Britain flaming 
higher even than among his own people and neighbors. 
That feeling grew until when news came of the galknt 

65 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

fight at Lexington and Concord, when the stirring message 
of the Declaration of Independence rang out through 
Virginia, the halls, the classrooms, even the chairs of 
the faculty were emptied, and out marched boys and pro- 
fessors together to fight for that independence. 

Of course James Monroe was in those irregular ranks. 
What is more he fought with other young men of his age 
at White Plains, Trenton, Brandywine, and on other 
famous fields. He was promoted; but, to his own disap- 
pointment, not as rapidly as he had hoped. To offset that 
disappointment, however, he met Thomas Jefferson during 
the time Jefferson was in Virginia working on the reform 
of that state's kws. Right then and there the two, both 
from Virginia, both from old William and Mary, began a 
friendship that lasted just as that between Madison and 
Jefferson lasted throughout life. That friendship grew 
all the more rapidly when James Monroe, fifteen years 
younger, began to study law under Jefferson. 



QUITE naturally young Monroe became interested in all 
that interested Jefferson. That meant getting into the game 
of politics. Jefferson was then serving Virginia as governor. 
Monroe became a member of the House of Delegates. Then, 
later, he, like Madison, was chosen to sit on the Governor's 
Council. And also, Kke Madison, he was sent to the Conti- 
nental Congress to work for Virginia's interests on the 
Mississippi as well as for the advance of all American trade. 
Then came a time of quiet law practice, before he was 
returned to the Virginia House of Delegates. Since those 
were the days when all of the states were trying to ratify 
the Constitution of the United States, James Monroe did 
his share in his own state convention to bring about Vi> 

66 



ON GUARD 

ginia's acceptance. Perhaps, because he did that work 
satisfactorily, Virginia sent him on to serve in the first 
Senate set up under that Constitution. There, because he 
shared so fully Jefferson's democratic beliefs, he openly 
and actively opposed President Washington. In spite of 
that, Washington recognised the younger man's power and 
appointed him American minister to France. 

The appointment came at the time when the greatest 
tact was necessary to smooth out French exasperation over 
Jay's Treaty with England. Because of his democratic 
ideals, Monroe was received with great enthusiasm in 
France. He might have done much to adjust the trouble 
there. But, instead, he apparently sympathised with the 
French and, so, increased rather than decreased their 
resentment against the treaty. In addition, so far as any 
one could determine, he made no effort at all to collect 
damages for the loss to American vessels caused by the 
French. In short, James Monroe failed in both of the mis- 
sions he was sent to accomplish. There was nothing for 
President Washington to do but recall him. James Monroe, 
thus publicly embarrassed, felt he had been unjustly used 
and straightway set forth his reasons for thinking so. 
Benjamin Franklin published those reasons. The paper 
offended Washington so deeply that, it is claimed, he never 
forgave James Monroe for permitting it to go out to the 
public. 

Virginians, however, apparently lost none of their con" 
fidence in him, for they elected him governor in 1799 and 
reelected him for a succeeding term. And, then, Thomas 
Jefferson became president. He immediately showed how 
he felt when he called his friend, James Monroe, to 
go back to France. That was the time when Monroe 
worked with Livingston in completing the Louisiana Pur" 

67 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

chase. He did that very acceptably and, if he had stopped 
with that, he might have done much to offset the criticism 
of his earlier diplomatic service. 

Instead, Jefferson sent him to London to serve as minis- 
ter to England. He spent four years there and in Spain 
trying to adjust Spanish claims in Florida, and to make 
Great Britain cease her interference with American sea 
trade. He was so unsuccessful in both countries, that Jef- 
erson sent William Pinckney over to help him out, and 
then the two of them Monroe and Pinckney for some 
unaccountable reason made a treaty with England which 
left out the very two points they had been instructed to 
include by the United States government. Such an unex' 
plainable failure was too much even for President Jefferson. 
In angry disappointment, he immediately returned the 
treaty with instructions to revise it entirely. But, before 
there was time to do that, the British made all such negO" 
tiations impossible by firing on the Chesapeake. 

And James Monroe came back to America. After three 
years, he was once more sent to the Virginia House 
of Delegates and, then, following that was again elected 
governor of his state. In the meantime, Madison had 
struggled through the first trying years of his administra" 
tion with his Secretary of State opposing all of his policies 
before the position became vacant and he was free to 
ask his friend, James Monroe, to come to his rescue. 



No matter how far he had fallen below his country's 
demands before, James Monroe certainly measured high 
in the years that followed. Through the dark days just 
preceding the War of 1812, he stood like a rock back of 
Madison. His friend had certainly never needed him more. 

68 



ON GUARD 

Then, later, when the war was actually on, the post of 
Secretary of War became vacant. The President could see 
no one whom he considered so fit to fill that vacancy as 
James Monroe. So Monroe was made secretary of war 
and continued in this post all through the three years of 
the war with England. That work alone was more than 
enough for one man to do during those dark days; but 
James Monroe not only did that but kept right on through 
the same years being secretary of state. 
. He must have been a man unafraid of hard work, a man 
who had learned to keep his head in times of much confused 
thinking, and he must have learned by then to act de- 
cisively not to fumble for the people of the United 
States liked what he did and said so by electing him presi' 
dent in 1816. He served so ably through his first four 
years that, in his reelection of 1820, he swept the country 
with his popularity. In fact, there was only one electoral 
vote cast against him, and that, it is said, was cast so that 
no man could claim the record of George Washington's 
unanimous election as President. 

Certainly, James Monroe deserves Americans gratitude 
not only for his tremendous work through the years of 
the War of 1812 but even more for. that throughout the 
eight years of his presidency. When he began those years 
the country was just coming out from under the burden 
of its war with England. The vast new western territory 
was opening rapidly. A young but vigorous trade with 
foreign lands was thrusting its rights for protection for- 
ward. If ever various interests needed a firm hand to pull 
them together and guide them into a steadily prosperous 
time of peace, it was in 1816. The man who did that needed 
to build up a strong central power. In his earlier years, 
back in the days of Jefferson's strong influence, Monroe 

69 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

would have fought such a power. But the years between 
had taught him to modify, somewhat, his unyielding ideas 
of democracy. He therefore not only worked with those 
who thought it wise to strengthen federal power, but he 
even led that policy. Fortunately, several decisions of the 
Supreme Court supported the policy of the administration 
by increasing the power of the national government over 
that of the state. 

As a result, the government at Washington acted swiftly 
to protect trade by a strong tariff and to throw the respon- 
sibility for internal improvements back on the states 
desiring them. The latter was particularly important as 
six new states carved out of the land lying between the 
Appalachians and the Mississippi were admitted to the 
Union between 1816 and 1820. The government could not 
afford, especially with its treasury exhausted by war, to 
undertake the building of roads through that rapidly 
developing territory. But the settlement concerning who 
should bear the expense of improvements was not nearly 
so troublesome as trying to settle the question of slavery 
in that territory. Even back in the years of drawing up the 
Constitution of the United States, an Ordinance had been 
made prohibiting slaves in the states to be formed north 
of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi. Since the United 
States at that time did not own the land west of that river, 
nothing, of course, had been done about slavery in that vast 
stretch. Now, however, since the purchase of Louisiana, 
something had to be done. 

Should states formed from that land be admitted as free 
or slave states? The question raged bitterly until it finally 
centered about the admission of Missouri. Now, in the 
Monroe administration, it was answered by the Missouri 
Compromise, which allowed that state to have slaves, 

70 



ON GUARD 

but prohibited them in ail other territory included in the 
Louisiana Purchase. Through the Compromise, an outbreak 
between the North and the South was postponed for 
years. 

In the meantime, while handling these matters of trade, 
internal improvements, and slavery, the Monroe adminis' 
tration had also brought to a satisfactory ending years of 
conflict with Spain by abandoning claims to Texas and 
securing, in turn, all rights to Florida. 

Having accomplished all of these things and so started 
his own country well on her way to a prosperous future 
once more, James Monroe might have stopped right there 
with a feeling of having accomplished enough for one man's 
presidency. But no leader of vision could have stopped 
there content in his mind. For while all was at peace 
within the borders of the United States, beyond those 
borders, especially in Mexico and Central America there 
was a general unrest. There the Spanish colonies had set 
up their own governments and were just beginning to 
prosper. Naturally, Spain wanted to regain her power 
over them and to that end appealed to other European 
powers to help her. Great Britain, on her part, feared any 
such alliance and approached the United States to ally 
herself with England against the movement the Spanish 
monarch was contemplating. Fortunately James Monroe 
and John Quincy Adams knew European politics. They 
knew, also, that George Washington's Prockmation of 
Neutrality had certainly proved to be a wise one in the 
young years of the government's development. Still further, 
they knew that Thomas Jefferson had seen fit to maintain 
that proclamation when he had said the United States 
would maintain fc 'peace, commerce and honest friendship" 
with all nations but would enter into "entangling alii" 

71 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

ance" with none. In addition to the proved wisdom of 
those earlier policies, America sympathised with the 
struggling Spanish colonies. She sympathised with all 
American efforts to establish American rights to trade and 
to live according to the demands of the new Western con- 
tinent. Europe's problems belonged to Europe; America's 
to America. In view of all of that James Monroe in his 
Annual Message to Congress, December, 1823, declared 

"We should consider any attempt on their" fthe 
foreign powers] "part to extend their system 
to any portion of this hemisphere as danger- 
ous to our peace and safety. With the exist- 
ing colonies or dependencies of any European 
power we have not interfered, and shall not 
interfere. But with the governments who have 
declared their independence, and maintained 
it, and whose independence we have, on great 
consideration and on just principles, acknowl- 
edged, we could not view any interposition 
for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling 
in any other manner their destiny, by any 
European power, in any other light than as 
the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition 
toward the United States." 

And thus went forth the famous Monroe Doctrine, 
which, although worded by John Quincy Adams, ex- 
pressed the strong feeling President Monroe felt on the 
subject of European interference with national life on the 
American continent. 

With peace established at home, with peace safeguarded 
for weaker neighbors, James Monroe saw bis presidency 
end in a gratifying contrast to the confusion and gloom of 

72 



ON GUARD 



its beginning. Certainly he should have been able to retire 
at peace in his own life. But, like Jefferson, he had been 
forced to spend much more than his salary. Like his friend, 
also, he had not been able, because of public demands, to 
develop his own private fortune. How could he go back to 
his home at Oak Hill, Virginia, to live as his position 
demanded he should live? Finally, Congress voted him 
$30,000 to make his last days easier. Those days came to an 
end at his daughters home 'in New York on Independence 
Day, 1831 thus making the third president out of the 
first five to die on that anniversary. He was buried in 
New York. Twenty-seven years later, Virginia decided to 
take him home with great honors to Richmond. 



73 



II. JOHN QUINCY ADAMS 



STANDING high on a hill, holding tight to his mother's 
hand, small John Quincy Adams saw the British soldiers 
driven back from Bunker Hill Down in Philadelphia his 
father was busily planning with other men from the thir- 
teen colonies to make the American victory count forever 
and a day. John Quincy Adams knew all of that. Not only 
knew it, but believed the victory was bound to come; 
just as his father believed it, and just as they both 
were to work to maintain it worthily when once it had 
come. 

For the Adams family were made of just such stern 
reliable stuff as that. From the time they had landed on 
the wind-swept coast of old Massachusetts away back in 
1640, they had lived on in the town of Braintree set down 
against rugged granite hills facing the sea. And every 
generation had found them not only stronger in body, mind, 
and prosperity, but stronger in devoted loyalty to the new 
land. 

With such a family back of him, with a father devoting 
all of his time to helping the new nation get started right, 
John Quincy, himself, very early had his own ideas of 
what he owed that nation. Those ideas had a chance 
to develop in a remarkable way, for when he was only 
eleven years old, his father was sent on a diplomatic 
mission to Paris and took his small son with him. He 
studied there; also at Leipzig and Amsterdam. He traveled- 
a mere slip of a lad to Russia as private secretary to 
Francis Dana, United States envoy. But Russia refused to 
receive that envoy, and small John Quincy traveled back 
to Paris where he, at fourteen, acted as one of the 

74 




3, 



ON GUARD 

retaries to the commission working on the peace treaty to 
conclude the American Revolution. 

When that treaty was finally completed, John Adams 
went to London. John Quincy, however, announced that 
he was coming back to America to enter Harvard College. 
So back he came to take his full course and to graduate when 
he was twenty. After that he spent three years studying 
law and was admitted to the bar. 



BUT by that time, George Washington was reaching 
out for every well-equipped man to help start the machinery 
of government to running smoothly and surely. John 
Quincy's own father, as first vice-president, was equally 
anxious that all should go well. There were very few young 
men in America as well trained to help both of them as 
John Quincy Adams. So he was sent as minister to the 
Netherlands. Because there was very little to do there, 
Washington asked him, two years later, to go to Portugal. 
Before he had time to begin his work there, Washington's 
second term ended, his own father became second president 
of the United States, and immediately sent his son to 
Berlin to put through a treaty establishing more friendly 
relations as well as more favorable regulations of commerce 
between the Prussians and America. 

When John Adams was defeated for reelection, John 
Quincy Adams returned home, where he was elected, 
immediately, to the Massachusetts Senate. The next year 
he was sent to the United States Senate. There he found 
the battle which had so sorely tried his father, still raging. 
Now, although the Adams family were loyal one to the 
other, each was also loyal to his own beliefs, even if those 
beliefs differed from those of the rest of family. John Quincy, 

77 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

therefore, saw no reason why he should always believe 
or vote as his father had voted. The country was growing 
rapidly. New policies were needed to meet that growth. 
The old unyielding group of Federalists to which his father 
had belonged had decreased in numbers and power. John 
Quincy could get nowhere by joining that group. 

On the other hand he approved of many things Thomas 
Jefferson, his father's political opponent, was doing. He 
saw no reason why he should not say so by voting with 
Jefferson's Republican followers in the Senate. Immedi- 
ately his own party turned on him and his troubles 
began. But those first troubles were as nothing compared 
to the ones he faced later when he supported the Embargo 
Act so bitterly opposed by his own Massachusetts follow 
ing. That support cost him his place in the Senate. 

Perhaps, however, John Quincy Adams was somewhat 
glad to be free of all responsibility to that party. At any 
rate, he cut loose from it at the next Republican caucus 
not only cut loose, but took his stand with the Jeffer- 
sonian party by voting for James Madison. 

Madison, in turn, remembering the long experience 
John Quincy Adams had had in European countries, 
sent him as a minister to Russia. Thirty years had passed 
since he, as a small boy, had gone there with Francis Dana, 
only to have the Russian government refuse to recognise 
the government of the United States. Now, Russia not only 
received him as his country's official representative, but 
did so with high honor. In fact, when the war of 1812 
was declared, the Russian Csar offered to help Adams 
work for peace with England. America accepted the offer, 
with orders for Adams to join the commission when it 
arrived in Europe. That first effort failed, but, later, when 
Engknd decided the war was not going as she had hoped 

78 



ON GUARD 

and so was ready for peace, Adams sat at Ghent with 
Galktin, Bayard, Jonathan Russell, and Henry Clay to 
draw up the terms. 

From Ghent he went to Paris a Paris wild with the 
excitement over Napoleon's triumphant return from his 
short exile on the isknd of Elba. He was there when that 
General entered the city. He heard and saw the French 
receive their adored leader with a frenzy of joy. He also 
heard and saw the whole of Europe gather to crush him. 
He saw the end come with the defeat at Waterloo. What 
did he think of all that this reserved, stem man from New 
England? 

No doubt he was only too glad to turn his back on it all 
and double his efforts to make his own government even 
more steadily, permanently sure. Those efforts took him to 
England to work with Clay and Galktin on a treaty which, 
it was hoped, would clear up certain interferences with 
America's commerce. While doing that, he received word 
that he had been made minister to Great Britain. London 
was certainly to know the Adams family in that position. 
There had been John Adams as the first American to assume 
the dignity of that post. Now John Quincy was to see 
whether he was any better fitted for it than his father had 
been. Later John Quincy's son was to have a third chance 
to make good the family name at the court of England, 

John Quincy stayed in the position for two years before 
President Monroe recalled him to make him secretary of 
state in his cabinet. In that capacity John Quincy Adams 
had the satisfaction of again working on the Florida question 
begun under Jefferson. This time he was to see his work tell 
when Spain finally ceded Florida to the United States. He 
was also to have the satisfaction of drawing up the Monroe 
Doctrine so as to include what he was convinced from 

79 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

his wide experience in Europe it should include, and to 
see the United States accept it as a means of safeguarding 
the Western continent. 

By the time that doctrine was announced, the end of 
President Monroe's administration was near enough in 
sight for political leaders to be figuring openly on who was 
to be the next president. Although the country itself had 
been going prosperously, peacefully on, political leaders 
at Washington had developed widely different, conflicting 
opinions on what was next to be done. Fully five of those 
leaders wanted to sit in the presidents chair. Three of 
them, Adams himself, Calhoun, and Crawford worked 
towards that end within Monroe's own cabinet. But the 
two most feared, Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson, were 
outside that close circle. Those two, brilliant and fearless, 
had a devoted following. 

All five of these men ran for the presidency, and one of 
the worst tangles ever known in any presidential race 
resulted. Andrew Jackson, looming tall as a western 
favorite, received the most electoral votes; Adams came 
second; Crawford followed Adams; and last came Clay. 
But no one of the four had a majority. That meant that the 
House of Representatives had to take the election over. 
Since the Constitution permitted only the three highest 
to be considered, Clay was eliminated. He, in his turn, 
persuaded his followers to turn their votes to John Quincy 
Adams. 

And so John Quincy Adams became sixth president of 
the United States with Calhoun as vice-president. He at 
once appointed Henry Clay to lead his cabinet as secretary 
of state. Of course all of the opposing factions pounced 
upon Adams for having traded that post for the votes 
Clay had managed to turn his way. Knowing John Quincy 

80 



ON GUARD 

Adams, knowing the whole Adams family, in fact, as the 
country did know them, it should have refused to believe 
any such accusations. But party feeling was running high. 
Andrew Jackson was shouting all up and down the West 
against what he felt had been an outrage in the recent 
election. 

John Quincy Adams, therefore, took his oath of office in 
the midst of a turmoil not unlike the one his father had 
faced twenty-eight years before. Like his father, John 
Quincy Adams was splendidly fitted to lead as president, 
well trained at home and abroad, fearless and honest. But 
still further, like his father, he now clung to policies fast 
losing support with a new generation. No doubt he was 
often right, but no doubt, also, he failed to act in sympathy 
with his people. That lack of cooperation, together with the 
bitter opposition he met in Congress brought failure after 
failure to the measures he tried to enforce. 

There was, for example, the trouble of adjusting Indian 
titles down in Georgia where the whites, impatient of delay, 
took matters into their own hands and openly defied and 
humiliated the Adams administration. There was also the 
Tariff Bill of 1828, so impossible in its details as to be called 
the Tariff of Abominations. Because, however, even bad as 
it was, it was better for trade than no bill at all, the Adams 
men voted for it, the President signed it, and it became a 
law, only to add to his unpopularity. 

But what must have been harder for John Quincy Adams 
to accept than these disappointments in his home policies, 
were his failures to carry out successfully American rela- 
tions with foreign powers. For it was during his administra- 
tion that the British West Indies closed their ports to 
American trade. That was a severe blow to his power. 
Then when he tried to extend national friendliness by 

81 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

accepting an invitation to attend a Congress of all American 
republics held in Panama, Congress bickered so long over 
arrangements that the representatives reached Panama after 
the Congress had adjourned. 

In the face of all that, there was nothing for John 
Quincy Adams to do but go home at the end of his one 
term as president. Anyone would think that he had earned 
a right to stay there. He was now sixty-two. He had 
served his country in practically every capacity, both at 
home and abroad. Nevertheless, there were things he still 
saw to be done chiefly about slavery things which he 
believed an Adams could and should make an effort to do. 

So, a year later, when asked to run as a member of the 
House of Representatives, he did so, was elected, and then 
reelected throughout the remaining years of his life. And 
those years were many; for he lived to be eighty, lived to 
fight the extension of skvery, vigorously, fearlessly, up to 
the minute he dropped on the floor of the House with an 
attack of apoplexy. That day was the last in his long public 
service for he died shortly afterwards, February 23, 1848, 
and was taken back to rest at Quincy, Massachusetts, in 
the land of the Adams family. 



82 



Chapter IV 

NEW BLOOD 



I. ANDREW JACKSON 



AIER nearly forty years of drawing the presidents 
from two states, the people of the United States 
clamored loudly for a change. No doubt it had been just 
as well that the six men leading the government that far 
had been exactly who and what they were: four of them 
from Virginia gracious, courtly, scholarly plantation 
owners; two from the granite hills of old Massachusetts 
stern, abrupt, clear-thinking, and just. Nevertheless, times 
had changed. The first quarter of the new century was 
passed. A new generation had grown up with new views. 
New lands had been added. No two states, no matter how 
powerful, no matter how different one was from the other, 
could any longer say continuously say who should sit 
in the president's chair. 

To be sure Thomas Jefferson had done much to upset the 
idea that a strong central government run by a few leaders 
was the only safe sort of government. He had, in fact, gone 
far to give the people of the United States a more far- 
reaching vision a vision of a government where every 
state should have an equal voice with every other state in 
saying what should be done and how. And while, after 
his presidency, the old policy of rule by a few had never 
returned in its full force again, still nobody could claim 

83 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

that Jefferson's dream of a more representative group at 
Washington had come true as he had claimed that it could. 

But now now with the new western states growing 
sturdily strong in numbers and wealth, with the people 
living out in those states growing daily more sure in their 
independent thinking, who could expect the United States 
would any longer think it was wise for any one section of 
the country, any one group of men to say what all the 
others should do and be? 

Besides, there was Andrew Jackson. For four years 
now ever since Congress had decided against him for 
president in favor of John Quincy Adams that man had 
been shouting, in a loud and compelling voice, about the 
way the country's affairs were being run at Washington. 
So far as that went, he had been objecting to them always 
ever since he first appeared as a representative in President 
Washington's time. The only difference now was that he 
not only was objecting more emphatically, but that he had 
attracted a party behind him who gave his objections 
support throughout the whole country. And since he 
stood up head and shoulders above that party, a picturesque, 
dramatic, fiery, and fearless southwestern frontiersman, 
that country not only heard him but saw him. Could anyone 
be more different from the past generation of gracious, 
scholarly Virginians and severely self-controlled New 
Engknders who had ruled the knd through all of its 
younger years? Certainly he promised the change the 
people were clamoring to have. So those people decided 
to make him their next president. In doing so, what did 
they do? What sort of a man did they really choose? 

In the first place, Andrew Jackson was Irish. In fact, his 
father, mother and two brothers had only been over from 
old Antrim County, Ireland, about a year when Andrew 

84 



NEW BLOOD 

himself was born. This one fact of inheritance alone might 
have made him stand out as different from the six presidents 
before him, all of whom, besides being originally of English 
blood, had several generations of American ancestry back 
of them generations who had clung close to the eastern 
coast. 

On the other hand, the Jackson family had passed right 
through the settled eastern strip, had struck the trail 
through the wilderness lying beyond, and had followed 
that trail until it brought them to the frontier border line 
between the jtwo Carolinas where an Irish settlement 
promised them neighbors of their own kind. And there 
on the banks of the* upper Catawba, in a tiny town called 
Waxham, Andrew Jackson was born, March 15, 1767, 
just a few days after his own father's death. 

Since that father died without leaving much more than a 
copper behind him and without having yet acquired so 
much as an acre of knd, Andrew's young mother was left 
single-handed to wrench shelter, food, and clothing for 
herself and three children out of the wilderness about her. 
But neighbors were really neighbors along that Carolina 
frontier, and Andrew Jackson's mother was the sort that 
knew how to live as one of them. Food of a rough kind was 
to be had by hunting and fishing. Shelter could be made 
from the forest timber. Clothing could, if necessary, be 
wrought from skins of wild beasts. After all, life, even for 
the very poor, was possible out there in those early days. 
And it was free free and invigorating as the wind which 
swept through long stretches of unbroken forests lying 
between that frontier and the far-away Atlantic coast 
colonies. 

It was a lucky thing for Andrew's mother that the wilder" 
ness did offer her food and shelter in return for long days 

87 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS - 

of back-breaking work; for her sons certainly gave her 
plenty to worry about without losing sleep over hunger 
and cold. Since those boys were very alive, very curious, 
and absolutely without fear, they fell into trouble with the 
British soldiers invading the border settlements. For one 
thing, Andrew, rising in all of the might of his young 
years, refused, point-blank, to brush the boots of an 
English officer. Whereupon the officer struck "him. In 
addition, he and his brother were taken prisoners and their 
mother had to visit the British camp and beg for their 
release. Not long afterwards she died as a result of exposure- 
while traveling to Charleston to help care for prisoners 
there. After her death, Andrew's two brothers lost their 
lives through the privations brought upon them in those 
years of the Revolution. 

All of which meant that Andrew Jackson stood alone in 
his world when he was only fourteen. That world was 
composed of men who had set up very rigid codes of honor 
and who stood ready to fight for those codes at the drop 
of a hat. Life among them was full of adventure, full of 
horse-racing, cock-fighting full of everything, it appears, 
except opportunity for going to school. What could a 
fourteen-year-old boy, without home or family, do for 
himself with such irresponsible living going on all about 
him? 

Nobody is very sure what he could or did do for several 
years. But whatever happened, he came out at the end of 
those years strengthened in his belief in his own power. 
Perhaps it was this belief which led him to study law, just 
as it led many another self-assertive young westerner to do 
the same thing. Certainly he had nothing else to depend on 
to help him. So far as anyone knows, he had no regukr 
schooling in all of his life. But, in the face of, even that 



NEW BLOOD 



drawback, he plunged ahead and three years later was 
admitted to the bar. 



THE very next year, in 1788, his friend, John McNairy, 
became judge of the Superior Court of the Western District 
of North Carolina now Tennessee and Andrew Jackson, 
very shortly afterwards, was made public prosecutor. That 
meant moving to Nashville. It also meant that he had to 
take a stern, unrelenting, fearless stand against all law- 
breakers. Their tribe was numberless down in that south- 
western land of broken contracts, of struggles between 
the Indians and whites, of fierce rebellion against every- 
thing which interfered with a man's living his own life 
exactly as he wanted to live it regardless of man-made laws 
and order. Andrew Jackson, once having taken on the 
power of prosecutor, determined to enforce that power 
so as to make the whole countryside remember him. Out 
he rode in the face of threats, in the face of bitter blame 
from both friend and foe, to compel obedience to law. 
And he did what he set out to do and in doing so became 
known far and wide as a man of relentless force, who, 
once he was certain that a law had been broken, did his 
duty most thoroughly and effectively. 

As the southwestern frontier did not offer many of his 
sort, political leaders soon came to look upon him as one 
whom it was wise to watch, to use, and, if necessary, to 
honor. That is why Andrew Jackson appeared later in the 
group who formed the Constitution of Tennessee; why he 
was also sent to represent that state in the first House of 
Representatives and from there to the United States 
Senate. In these national representative bodies, he 
came quickly into the public limelight as one of the very 

'89 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

few men who constantly, vigorously opposed President 
Washington. 

Having thus made himself known, he resigned as United 
States senator, in 1798, to become judge of the Supreme 
Court of Tennessee. Several years later he drew attention 
once more his way by his unfaltering friendship with, and 
open defense of, Aaron Burr. This attitude of his so 
strangely defiant of general public opinion was quite in 
accord with many other things in his life during those 
years. Quick to take offense, and, once having taken it, 
never forgetting it, never relenting towards the offender, 
he had long been famous for his quarrels. 

In fact, in his earlier court days one of those quarrels 
had according to the code of that border country 
brought on a duel between him and his opponent. Both 
of the men had then, intentionally, fired in the air, so that 
the affair had ended harmlessly. Ten years later, however, 
in 1806, when another quarrel caused him to fight a duel 
with Charles Dickinson, Andrew Jackson not only fired 
at his man, but killed him. In turn, Jackson, himself, received 
a wound from which he never entirely recovered. 
Some half a dosen years later he was again wounded, 
slightly this time, in a shooting affray in a Nashville 
tavern. 

It was during the year of this last outburst, that he was 
sent as major general of militia over into Georgia and 
Alabama to help settle the trouble there with the Creek 
Indians. There he won two victories. As a result, he was 
made major general of the regular army and was sent to 
fight the British in the southern campaign of 1814. 

Now, Andrew Jackson, true to his nature, had never 
stopped hating the British for the bitter boyish grief he 
felt they had brought in the long^ago death of his mother 

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and brothers. Perhaps that is why he struck with a force 
that brought first the capture of Pensacola, and second* 
the famous victory of New Orleans. Immediately following 
the ktter triumph he proclaimed martial law in that city 
and set about enforcing it with such merciless thorough" 
ness that he was fined a thousand dollars for banishing a 
judge together with others, in his wide sweep of power. 
Of course, Jackson never forgot that fine and later managed 
to get Congress not only to repay him the principal but a 
heavy interest as well. 

Three years after his New Orleans victory he was placed 
in command of a force against the Seminole Indians. He 
followed those Indians into Spanish territory over in 
Florida. There, in a very high-handed manner, he arrested 
and executed two British subjects. Naturally, this caused 
an uproar of criticism and Jackson once more found himself 
the center of conflict. This time that conflict had spread 
so as to become international. Fortunately, the purchase of 
Florida in James Monroe's administration ended the dispute 
and the storm once more died away. 



THIS last episode marked the end of Andrew Jackson's 
military career. He was then free to return to his home and 
resume his political life, practically abandoned for over 
twenty years. Evidently, his fellow citizens were glad to 
welcome him back; also his political party of Tennessee, 
for, even in 1822, the General Assembly of that state began 
to push him for president. With that end in view they 
sent him to the United States Senate, with the result that 
he flamed out as leader of the new Democratic party in that 
famous presidential campaign at the close of Monroe's 
tighfryear administration. That campaign ended with an 

91 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

election which failed to give any one of the candidates the 
majority necessary to make him president. Congress settled 
the matter by electing John Quincy Adams. Of course, 
Andrew Jackson was outraged. What is more, he, according 
to his nature, never stopped saying so. 

Still further, while he was saying so he managed to put 
forth over and again his idea of popular sovereignty, by 
which he meant that all of the people, east, west, north 
and south, should have a voice in the national government; 
a voice far louder and coining far more directly from each 
individual citizen, than that which Thomas Jefferson had 
claimed ought to be heard and heeded from each individual 
state. With all of his Irish wit and frontier directness, he 
stirred the American people up to a white heat of resent- 
ment over the wrong he made them feel had been done both 
them and himself in the recent election. He even brought 
the old Republican party to a split over the issue, with one 
side taking its stand under the new banner of the Jacksonian 
democrats, while the other remained with the old conserva- 
tive group as Whigs, under the leadership of John Quincy 
Adams and Henry Clay. As time passed, Andrew Jackson's 
influence continued to grow. The new generation liked 
his brusque, often uncouth, always vivid manner of doing 
things. Besides, they were tired of the cautiously safe and 
formal doings of the group which had so long ruled over 
affairs of government. 

And, therefore, Andrew Jackson, known to his country 
as Old Hickory ever since his record in the War of 1812, 
became president under a new order of thinking and acting. 
He brought into his office the fearless, unyielding strength 
which had earned him that name; he brought the resource- 
fulness developed in his frontier life; and he also brought 
all of the red-blooded swift daring of his Irish race. 

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NEW BLOOD 

And he used them all in a federal house cleaning that set 
the United States to gasping in dismay and astonishment. 
Out went the Adams men, out went others who had 
stayed right on in public office from one administration to 
the next; in came those who had shouted for Jackson and the 
new Democratic party. And so began what is known as 
the spoils system. In a short nine months the Jackson 
administration swept out 1000 opposing Federal officials 
as against only 160 removed in the forty years previous. 

Added to this startling change in the usual order at 
Washington, Jackson treated his cabinet members much as 
he had treated his men in the army as inferiors. Since 
those members were among the most outstanding men of 
the country, they, quite naturally, resented suctrtreatment. 
Jackson thereupon ignored them by turning to a small 
group of his own friends for advice. 

While the country was gasping over all of these very 
new, high-handed changes from the old quiet order of 
things, the Jackson administration began its famous war 
on the Bank of the United States. In connection with this 
the President vetoed the bill for the bank's recharter and 
ordered public deposits transferred front 1 it to be distributed 
among a number of local banks. When Congress passed a 
resolution criticising him for this action, he managed to have 
that resolution revoked and even expunged from the 
Congressional records. 

Another dramatic show of power was given when two 
war vessels, together with land troops, appeared in South 
Carolina to force that state to cease its efforts to nullify 
certain tariff laws. To be sure, President Jackson, immedi' 
ately after, favored a lowering of tariff to extend gradually 
over a number of years. But even this latter compromise 
did not quiet the South where slavery was really standing 

93 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

in the way of commercial advance but where the southerners 
were trying to throw the blame for the slowing up of their 
trade on the government's tariff restrictions. 

This resentment grew. The North took up the quarrel. 
Anti-slavery speeches, publications, and meetings became 
more and more frequent. Petitions were sent to Congress 
protesting against skve ownership. The Southerners insisted 
all such petitions be tabled. This was the struggle to which 
John Quincy Adams, following his own presidency, gave 
the strength of his body and mind in the House of Repre- 
sentatives. It was the struggle, also, which began then and 
was never to cease until the Civil War ended it. 

Fortunately, while all of this struggle was going on at 
home, Jackson was being very successful in handling 
foreign financial relations in connection with the collection 
of old claims, the payment of which he compelled to be 
made in specie. That policy which formed a source of 
greatly increased Federal income, was, however, over- 
balanced by his constant interference with banking affairs 
at home. Finally the inevitable crash came in the country's 
money affairs & crash that laid the whole of the United 
States low financially for over half a dosen years. 

Nevertheless, Andrew Jackson was popular. So popular, 
in fact, that he had been reelected in the midst of the early 
excitement over his handling of the Bank of the United 
States. What is more, that reelection carried with it an 
overwhelming majority. Still further his popularity increased 
in his second term as president. Which meant that -the new 
Democratic party was becoming more and more firmly 
established. 

One would have thought that at the end of his presidency 
Andrew Jackson would have been glad to rest after fighting 
his whole life through. Perhaps he would have been but 

94 



NEW BLOOD 



could not give up his many quarrels long enough even to 
try. At any rate his kst days seem to have been full of all 
his old-time conflict with neighbors and friends full to 
the end which came in 1845, at his home. The Hermitage, 
near Jacksonville, Tennessee. 



95 



H. MARTIN VAN BUREN 



To balance Andrew Jackson's hot Irish blood and direct 
frontier manner of speaking and acting, there had been 
Martin Van Buren, who was Dutch, cool-blooded, and 
smoothly calm; Martin Van Buren who had worked 
unceasingly to make Jackson president, and then when 
that was finally done, had served as Secretary of State in 
Jackson's first administration, and vice-president in the 
second. In addition to standing loyally by his tempestuous 
chief, he had worked early and late to build up the new 
Democratic party; and to make himself so surely the leader 
of that party, that he walked straight into the presidency 
when Jackson walked out. 

If he were unlike Andrew Jackson, he was also equally 
unlike any president preceding Jackson. How could he 
help being so? The little old Dutch town of Kinderhook, 
New York, where he was born in 1782, was certainly 
different from any birthplace so far represented at Wash- 
ington; different in manner of living even if not so different 
in manner of thinking about the United States. Martin 
Van Buren's own father had gone out with the other 
Dutch farmers about him to fight loyally for American 
freedom. When that fight ended, however, he had gone 
back to Kinderhook with his neighbors to till his land 
thriftily and to let other men to the north and the south 
take care of what followed. 

But his son Martin early showed that he had other 
ideas of life. When he had taken all there was to take from 
the village schools which was not very much in those 
days he began to study law. He was then only fourteen. 
He had no money. So, to earn his way, he swept the office, 

96 




7 



NEW BLOOD 

built the fires, and ran errands hither and yon. In spite of 
these interruptions he did such good, thorough work,, 
that one of New York City's best-known kwyers took him 
into his office to finish his course; which he did when only 
nineteen. Shrewd, thrifty, friendly-mannered, well prepared, 
Martin Van Buren then began his law practice, which at 
the end of twenty-five years, yielded him an income suf- 
ficiently large to make him at ease financially. 

And all of the time he was going about his business of 
kw, he was adding to his reputation as a clever political 
leader. That reputation had started away tack in his 
Kinderhook days when he led in the hot discussions 
carried on among the young men of that village. Even in 
those days he had stood out so prominently that he had 
been sent to carry the Jeffersonian banner to two New 
York counties at a Republican convention. The political 
ability he had shown then and in the years of his kw 
practice following, had brought him the acquaintanceship 
of many powerful political leaders. Among them were 
Aaron Burr and De Witt Clinton. Nothing speaks more 
significantly for Martin Van Buren's keen insight than that 
he managed to avoid any entanglement with Burr who was 
a friend of the New York group of kwyers with whom 
Martin studied. On the other hand, the alliance he made 
with the powerful Clintonian party was an equally strong 
proof of his political judgment. 



OF course, with all of his legal ability, with all of his 
political shrewdness, Martin Van Buren was bound to be 
in line for public office. And so, when twenty-six seven 
years after starting his kw practice Martin Van Buren 
was elected surrogate of Columbia County, New York. 

99 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

He held that position for five years. But it was in 1812 
that he really began to attract attention as a man with 
whom it was well to reckon in any New York political 
game. That year he entered the United States Senate to 
stay until 1820, supporting Madison's policy in the War of 
1812, and later, voting "No" on the question of slavery in 
Missouri. During half of those years he was also attorney- 
general in his own state. 

By that time he had not only fallen out with the Clin- 
tonian group, but had formed his own group and brought 
it up to such strength that when he walked out as presi- 
dential elector in 1820, every political faction in the United 
States had its eyes on him. And every wide-awake thinking 
American was also watching both him and his party for 
it was that party which in New York was beginning 
to put into practice the astounding spoils system that 
system which permitted the victor in an election to claim 
the spoils. Since those spoils were nothing more or less than 
good salaried public positions, the application of it meant 
turning out the defeated party's officeholders good or bad, 
and filling their places with men good and bad from 
the victorious party. Fitness for the service meant practi- 
cally nothing in the spoils system; support of the party 
meant everything. 

And it was Martin Van Buren, New York's chief 
defender of this system, who, as far back as 1820, saw in 
Andrew Jackson the man he considered best fitted for 
president. Right then and there he pinned his faith to the 
Tennessee leader, a faith which, supported by his own 
political shrewdness, found its fulfillment seven years later, 
when Andrew Jackson succeeded John Quincy Adams. 
But, although Martin Van Buren was not only shrewd 
but was generally safe in his shrewdness, he, for once, 

100 



NEW BLOOD 

overshot his mark in that campaign of 1828. For it was then 
that he and his group planned the Tariff of Abominations, 
hoping through public resentment of the bill to turn votes 
against Adams, but never intending the bill to pass. It did 
pass, however; and the resentment, even more bitter than 
Martin Van Buren expected, was to turn full force against 
him kter when the loss which the bill brought was grasped 
by the country. 

None of this, however, affected the strong hold he had 
on his own New York party. He was reelected to the 
Senate in 1827, only to resign the next year when he was 
elected governor of New York, and then, kter to resign 
the governorship, as well, in order to accept President 
Jackson's appointment as Secretary of State. Certainly Van 
Buren showed great tact and political skill by the way he 
avoided Jackson's personal quarrels, while all the time 
supporting the President's broader administration policies. 
In his own position as Secretary of State, he was so success- 
ful in adjusting America's West India trade question with 
England that he did much to further the President's 
popularity both at home and abroad. By this last service 
he also put himself in line to have Jackson appoint him 
minister to Engknd in 1831. He resigned his pkce in the 
cabinet to accept the English post. He even arrived in 
London where his statesmanlike bearing brought him a 
hearty welcome. But, in the meantime, back home, Calhoun, 
vice-president and leader of the opposition to President 
Jackson, had managed to get the Senate to refuse to ratify 
the Van Buren appointment to Engknd. 

Of course, there was nothing for Martin Van Buren to 
do but to return to America. No doubt he must have been 
embarrassed, angry, and disappointed. If so when he 
finally reached home he certainly had cause to rejoice over 

101 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

his political enemies. For while the people of the United 
States might not approve of all that Van Buren had done, 
they just as surely, now, did not approve of Calhoun and 
the Senate's action against him. That is probably the chief 
reason that Van Buren was then nominated vice-president 
and found his name standing just below Jackson's at the 
head of the Democratic ticket. 

At the end of President Jackson's second four years, 
Martin Van Buren's name advanced to the top of that 
ticketf And the Dutch boy, son of a small farmer from the 
tiny, friendly, quiet village of Kinderhook, became the 
eighth president of the United States. He remained loyal 
even then to Jackson loyal in the face of the clamor 
caused largely by the president's financial policies. 

To quiet that clamor he put forth the subtreasury kw 
which was accepted in 1840. In compliance with this law, 
the government built vaults at Washington, New York, 
Boston, Charleston, and St. Louis, where government funds 
could be handled. Of course, Martin Van Buren could not 
hope to grow in popularity under the country's discontent, 
especially when he, himself, surrounded his own administra^ 
tion with a display of luxury to offend, even further, his 
Democratic followers. But, regardless of whether that 
popularity grew less or grew more, he stood, like a stone 
wall for what he considered best for that country's welfare. 
Looking back now through the years, men conclude that 
what he thought was best was very often so. 

But the people of his own day could not see that. And 
when he ran for a second term he was defeated. After 
that he did just what one likes to know he would do. He 
went back to the Httle Dutch town of Kinderhook where he 
had an estate known as Lindenwald. But instead of living 
quietly there, as one also wishes he might have done, he 

102 



NEW BLOOD 

kept on playing the game of politics. In 1844 he even 
received a majority of votes for the presidential nomination, 
but since he did not receive the necessary two-thirds, his 
name was eliminated from the ticket. Again, four years 
later, his name came up. This time by two factions of the 
Democratic party the Barn Burners and the Free Sailers. 
Neither one of his group gained even one electoral vote 
so once more, Martin Van Buren lost even before starting 
to run for president. 

But, although he never again led a campaign, he kept up 
his interest in politics to the end of his life, in 1862. Those 
who knew him in those kst days give a pleasant picture 
of him as one who never grew bitter over defeat, who 
never lost his rare ability to work with men, or his even 
rarer ability to judge his opponent fairly. 



103 



III. WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON AND JOHN TYLER 



and Tyler too!" the Whigs shouted up and 
down the land all through the campaign of 1840. Never 
tiad the whole country let loose in quite such a wild 
manner. All that was luxurious, all that was extravagant 
was laid to the door of President Van Buren. All that was 
simple and plain was centered in the log cabin which 
dragged hither and yon in campaign parades as the symbol 
3f William Henry Harrison's way of living William Henry 
Harrison hero of the Battle of Tippecanoe, typical man 
from the west, head of the Whig ticket for president. But 
*ven while showing all this devotion to western ideals, the 
Whigs recognized the presence of other parts of the 
;ountry by nominating John Tyler from Virginia, thus 
loping to swing the vote of the South with that of the 



For that matter, William Henry Harrison was also a 
Virginian by birth, the son of a signer of th Declaration of 
Independence and one-time governor of that state. William 
rlenry, himself, had even grown up and graduated in a 
:lassical course from Hampden-Sidney College, Virginia. 
Then he had gone to Philadelphia to study medicine and 
>robably would have stayed right on in the East if his 
ather's death had not compelled him to give up his dream 
f being a physician. Only eighteen at the time, he entered 
he army, was sent out to the Middle West, and by 1797, 
ix years later, had been promoted to captain. 

After that, through Jefferson, he was made secretary of 
he vast Northwest Territory, then, later, governor of both 
he Indiana Territory and that of Louisiana^ before 
Tecumseh, the Indian chief, led his braves out to war, and 

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NEW BLOOD 

Harrison, meeting them on the banks of the Wabash River, 
won the Battle of Tippecanoe. That victorious battle, 
really a forerunner of the War of 1812, brought him into 
his first real prominence. Rising rapidly to the rank of 
major general, he held that commission until 1814, when he 
resigned to accept an appointment from President Madison 
which sent him back to the Northwest to negotiate with 
the Indians who were allied with the British against 
America. He handled the red tribes so successfully that 
from that time on, whenever trouble arose between England 
and the United States, the majority of the Indians of that 
section allied themselves with the Americans. 

Continuing loyal to his interests in pioneer life, General 
Harrison was sent to Congress in 1816 to work for generally 
needed improvements in the Middle West. That was just 
at the time Monroe was throwing all responsibility for 
such improvements back on the states. After that he 
served in both the Ohio and the United States Senate 
before representing his country as minister to Colombia. 
Perhaps it was because his foreign work was not very 
successful that he gave up all public life and retired to the 
little town of North Bend, Ohio. 

It was while living his own quiet life there that he was 
first thought of as good Whig presidential timber. He even 
led the opposition to Martin Van Buren following Andrew 
Jackson's second administration. Although he was defeated 
at that time, he surprised everybody by the strength of his 
following. Four years later, he was again nominated and 
that time won won not so much for being a Whig as 
for the direct contrast he made to Martin Van Buren. 
For Harrison's political record was a very clean record. 
That, added to his very simple, quiet manner of living, 
certainly appealed to the American people after the strenu- 

107 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

ous life they had lived under Jackson and Van Buren. 
So he swept the country at the election of 1840. 

But the country's rejoicing lasted only a month to the 
very day after William Henry Harrison took his oath of 
office, for after only a ten days" illness with pneumonia 
aggravated by the on-sweep of ruthless office-seekers he 
died, and John Tyler came to the president's chair in April, 
184L 



Now, John Tyler, as has been said, was, like Harrison, from 
Virginia. He had also heard politics talked from his earliest 
boyhood, for his father was a governor of Virginia and a 
United States district judge. Still further, like Harrison, he 
also had gone to a Virginia school, beginning with the 
grammar grades of William and Mary and going on to 
graduate from that college. After that there was nothing 
similar in the lives of the two. Where Harrison studied 
medicine, became a soldier, a man of influence out in the 
middle-west and northwest territory just opening up to 
settlement, John Tyler studied law, continued to live in his 
own state, and to carry on his political career from there. 
In fact, when he was only twenty-one, John Tyler was 
elected a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. 
What is more he remained a member for five years and on 
top of that went on to Washington for four years in the 
national House of Representatives. And it was in the 
latter capacity that he began to show his tendency to think 
and act independently of his political party. That was a 
disturbing thing for any political leader to do in those 
days just as it is now. His party learned, however, after 
a time that while he could not always be counted on to do 
what his party expected, there were certain things about 

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NEW BLOOD 

which he never changed. For example, all of Ms life he 
believed in Jefferson's type of democracy; all of his life 
he opposed internal improvements and high tariff. But 5 
when it came to the very important question of slavery 
no one was sure where John Tyler stood or what he would 
do. 

At the end of his four years in Congress, his health broke 
and he refused reelection. But he apparently regained his 
strength not long after, for two years later, he was back in 
the Virginia House of Delegates; then was elected governor 
of his state for two successive terms before he returned to 
Washington this time as a United States senator. In this 
last position he again upset all calculation of his party by 
going his own way according to his own beliefs. To be 
sure, those beliefs sometimes led him along with that party; 
but just as frequently they sent him off in the opposite 
direction. Despite all this uncertainty concerning his actions 
and vote, he kept right on being reelected. Evidently he was 
a good politician. 

At least, that is what the Whigs seemed to think when 
they placed him & Democrat second to Harrison on 
their presidential ticket. If Harrison could, through his 
picturesque wilderness life and his reliable political service 
.capture the general Western and Northern vote, they 
reasoned that the Virginian Tyler could, as we have said 
before, swing the Southern vote into line. And they 
reasoned well so far as that vote went, but what they had 
not foreseen was the possibility of Tyler's becoming chief 
executive as he did after Harrison's death. 

And the triumphant shouting of the Whigs soon died 
away in growls of discontent. To be sure, Tyler made a 
real attempt to follow Harrison's policies. For example, he 
started to keep the Harrison cabinet, but when he un- 

111 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

expectedly vetoed his party's pet bill for the establishment 
of a new Federal banking system, that cabinet, with the 
exception of Daniel Webster, resigned in a body. He also 
vetoed a tariff bill which would have increased duties just 
when the country was in dire need of more revenue. Aside 
from these negative decisions, the Tyler administration 
saw the negotiations over the northeastern boundary 
brought to a close through a treaty drawn up by Daniel 
Webster, Secretary of State, and Lord Ashburton, British 
minister at Washington. By the terms of this treaty England 
and the United States each yielded territorial claims held 
since 1783 with the result that the present northeastern 
boundary of Maine was fixed as the dividing line between 
Canada and the United States. No sooner was that done, 
than Daniel Webster also resigned from the cabinet. 

And Calhoun took his place Calhoun, a slave owner, 
who, it was widely known, was one of the leaders who was 
determined to see Texas admitted to the Union as a slave 
state. Of course, Texas, full of invading Southerners who 
under the leadership of Samuel Houston had declared their 
independence of Mexico, wanted what Calhoun wanted; 
also what John Tyler wanted and what he proceeded to 
bring about by negotiating a treaty for the annexation of 
Texas and laying it before the Senate for ratification. But 
that body, to the great joy of the North, refused to do any- 
thing of the sort. 

Whereupon the question of Texas became the main 
campaign issue of 1844. In order to pacify the Northerners 
somewhat, the Democrats Tyler's own party promised, 
if victorious, to re-open Oregon to American settlement 
and so baknce a non-slavery territory against one so surely 
pro-slavery as Texas. Then, right in the midst of this 
planning and bitter controversy, the Democrats turned 

112 



NEW BLOOD 



their backs on John Tyler and nominated James K. Polk 
who promised to do what his party demanded. Whereupon 
Polk was elected, Congress at once passed a resolution 
admitting Texas, and the last thing John Tyler did as 
president was to sign that resolution thus adding another 
slave state to the Union. 

For fourteen years after that, Tyler lived as a private 
citizen. It speaks well for his judgment that, during these 
years, his advice and often his power as a speaker were 
sought far and wide. At the end of that time, when civil 
war loomed dark over the country, he again came actively 
into leadership. At first, he was opposed to the Southern 
states' 1 seceding. In fact, he worked hard to help assemble 
the peace conference held at Washington in February, 
1861, over which he presided, and used his influence to 
bring about a peaceable settlement between the North and 
the South. 

Shortly after that convention, however, he saw that a 
break was inevitable and came out strongly for secession 
while serving as a member of the Virginia Convention, 
meeting at Richmond. He stayed on in that convention until 
he was sent to the provisional Confederate Congress in May, 
1861. Later, he was elected a member of the permanent 
Confederate Congress, but, before he could take his seat, 
death came in January, 1862. 

For over half a century his grave was left unmarked by 
the United States. In 1915, however, the government 
erected a monument on the spot as a recognition of his long 
public service. And it was the first monument to be voted 
by the Union to a man whose beliefs led him to side against 
that Union in the struggle between it and the South. 



113 



Chapter V 

NEW LANDS 



I. JAMES KNOX POLK 



Now if the new president, James K. Polk, had ended the 
trouble with the annexation of Texas, what a differ- 
ent story America might have unfolded. To be sure, that 
state added another to those already defending their rights to 
hold slaves. That one fact alone promised plenty of trouble. 
Still, Texas was down in the section where slavery had 
always existed and so her admission as a slave state, although 
objectionable to the North, was not likely to cause any 
lasting trouble. 

What would cause trouble, and serious trouble at that, 
would be any attempt to push the slave line farther north 
into new territory. However, that possibility seemed 
distant with the Missouri Compromise of 1820 fixing the 
dividing line at the northern boundary of that state. And 
until President Polk arrived to take the president's chair, 
any possibility of trouble growing out of new southern 
territory had seemed equally distant. But when his admin- 
istration added 500,000 square miles to the south and the 
west well, all sorts of slavery complications were bound 
to arise. 

Who was this new president? Was he equally in sympa- 
thy with North and with South? Was he capable of setting 
straight all the difficulties he pulled down on the heads of 
his countrymen? 

114 



NEW LANDS 

If nationality, family, and training counted in making 
him capable, he should have measured high in power. 
To begin with he was of Scotch-Irish blood. Further, he 
was descended from that sturdy group of Scotch-Irish who 
had found their way through the wilderness, even before 
the days of the Revolution, to settle along the Carolina 
frontier. In that group none was more vigorous, more 
thrifty than Samuel Polk, the father of James; none thought 
more clearly, or kept more closely to her Presbyterian faith 
than Jane Knox Polk, the mother of James. 

And so the boy, one of nine brothers and sisters, began 
life with all the advantages, as well as all the disadvantages, 
offered by life along the southwestern frontier. What Is 
more, he began it in 1795, just as Washington, beyond the 
mountains, was getting the wheels of the new American 
republic to running safely, and even this far-off Scotch 
Presbyterian group watched intently, discussed freely the 
way those wheels moved. When James was eleven, his 
father and some of the Carolina neighbors crossed the 
mountains into Tennessee to fell trees, break ground, and 
start a new settlement. Again, although there was a vast 
wilderness of country lying between that settlement and 
the Atlantic sea coast, news of the young nation's affairs 
of government somehow traveled over the mountains to 
that tiny cluster of cabins in Tennessee. Men and women, 
full of the live interest of pioneer days, seized on that news 
and talked it over early and late. Hot discussions were 
held. Conclusions were reached. And young James Polk 
heard them all heard and began right then and there to 
be a stalwart defender of Thomas Jefferson^s principles. 

Probably, he thought more about such things because 
he was rather frail and therefore not out in the rough and 
tumble of frontier life as much as his stronger brothers 

117 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

and sisters. Neither was he able to work as much on the 
farm which, under his father's thrifty management, began 
to yield almost at once. But he was quite strong enough to 
take advantage of all the schooling offered in that pioneer 
section. After getting what he could there, he was sent to 
Columbia Academy for a year, then to Murfreesboro 
for a short time, and finally he entered the University of 
Tennessee for a straight four years" course. 

Since learning was never very easy for James Polk, his 
college years were filled with hard work not only hard 
work but honest, thorough work, as well That is why he 
graduated at the head of his ckss in mathematics and 
classics. After that he studied law for two years, was 
admitted to the bar, and began his law practice in the 
city of Columbia. 



JAMES POLK had been attending strictly to his law practice 
for three years when the Democrats of his county sought him 
out and elected him to the Tennessee Legislature. Two 
years later he was sent to Washington to serve in Congress. 
He stayed there for fourteen straight years, industrious, 
quick in debate, and presided, for two sessions, as Speaker 
of the House. 

That was the time from 1825 to 1839 when Andrew 
Jackson was stampeding not only Washington, but the 
whole country with his defense of popular sovereignty, 
his dramatic campaigns, and his very new, very startling 
presidential policies. Quite naturally, James Polk, straight 
from Jackson's own frontier border, elected by Tennessee's 
own particular party of Jacksonian Democrats, supported 
his tall, vigorous state leader in the fight for the presidency. 
He went right on loyally supporting that leader's administra- 

118 



NEW LANDS 

tions. Then when the tide of public approval turned against 
Martin Van Buren, Tennessee elected James Polk governor, 
and he left Washington to go back to be Democratic leader* 
himself, in his own state. What is more, even though he was 
defeated for governor twice after that, he still retained 
unquestionable leadership in his party. 

That leadership explains his appearance at the Democratic 
National Convention of 1844 as possible candidate for 
vice-president. It also explains, somewhat, why that con-* 
vention, wearied by a stubborn deadlock, suddenly, joy 
fully, nominated him for president when somebody 
suggested he would be a safe leader. Then and there, 
James K. Polk became the first dark-horse candidate for 
president. 

And he was a dark horse in the full meaning of the term. 
The country scarcely knew who he was or what he had 
done. His own party knew him more for a man who kept 
his political pledges than for one of any particular brilliancy. 
On the other hand, his opponent, Henry Cky, was known 
the country over as a vigorous, vivid, successful leader in 
many a political fight. But, fortunately for Polk and his 
party, Henry Cky wabbled throughout all of his campaign, 
promising first one thing, then, another, until nobody could 
be sure where he stood. Still more fortunately for the 
Democrat candidate, the Whigs split over the annexation 
of Texas and votes were turned to Polk because he 
stood firmly for that annexation, 

As a result, the country pinned its faith to the small, 
rather colorless, long-haired man from Tennessee, who, 
even if he did seem to lack vision and daring, was steady 
and cautious, and so James Polk was elected president 
elected on his promise to annex Texas and the campaign 
cry of "Fifty-four-forty or fight" a cry growing out of 

119 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

the dispute with Great Britain over the northwest boundary 
line. Since the bill for the admission of Texas had been 
signed by John Tyler as his last presidential act, that part 
of Folk's campaign promise was taken care of before he took 
the president's chair. 

But now that Texas was a part of the Union, up came a 
boundary question relating to her southern border. So 
there was James Polk looking forth from the Capitol at 
Washington on a land wrought up to a frenzy over boundary 
disputes to north and to south while, in between, it seethed 
with excitement over the slavery question from border to 
border. What could such a man do in so difficult a situation? 

To begin with, he could work because he knew how and 
always had. So he began and kept on day after day without 
stopping for any sort of play, or even any real social life 
at the White House. By that work, the northwest boundary 
was settled, even though it had to be settled by compromise 
at the forty-ninth parallel instead of the fifty-four-forty line 
so loudly claimed in the Polk-Cky campaign; tariff was 
reduced on the principle of tariff for revenue only; an 
independent treasury system was established. 

And a war with Mexico was fought to settle the Texan 
boundary line. Mexico claimed that boundary was made by 
the Neuces River; the United States fixed it by the Rio 
Grande. President Polk decided to defend the claim of his 
people and to that end ordered General Zachary Taylor, 
then in Texas with four thousand men, to cross the Neuces 
River, and proceed towards the Rio Grande. The Mexican 
government, on its part, resenting what it felt was an 
invasion of its lawful territory, attacked and defeated a 
detachment of the American forces. Immediately, on the 
news reaching Washington, President Polk loudly pro- 
claimed to Congress that, 

120 



NEW LANDS 

fcV Mexico has shed blood upon American soil 
War exists, and exists by the act of Mexico 
herself." 

In answer, Congress at once made a formal declaration 
of war with Mexico. Certainly that war was not one of 
which America could ever be proud so far as the real 
cause is concerned. But it was a war from which she 
certainly can claim many brilliant victories won by a small 
American army over an enemy usually exceeding in num' 
bers. And a war which, after two years of hard, swift 
fighting, added to the territory of the United States 
all of what is now Texas, New Mexico, California, 
Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and the part of Colorado 
and Wyoming not included before in the purchase of 
Louisiana. 

All in all, James K. Polk, therefore, as said above, added 
500,000 square miles to his people's possessions through his 
expansion policies; he signed the Walker Tariff Bill and 
thus caused his country to prosper under what came near 
to being a system of free trade; and the handling of public 
moneys was assured greater safety through his favoring 
the subtreasury system. 

But what with the discovery of gold in California and 
that state's demanding admission as a free state, the question 
of slavery in new territory had increased until it towered 
over all others in the election of 1848. Since James Polk was 
a Southerner a slave owner, in fact he was looked upon 
as working for Southern interests as against those of the 
whole Union. That and other accusations left him no chance 
for reelection. 

After his one term, therefore, he went home. For the 
first time in his life he was now free to rest. But he did not 

121 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

know how. He had never pkyed in all of his hard-working 
life. Before he even had time to find out whether he could 
let go, relax, and find enjoyment in his new leisure, he was 
taken ill and died rather suddenly, in June, 1849 only a few 
months after leaving the White House. 



122 



IL ZACHARY TAYLOR AND MHXARD 



CERTAINLY the close of James K. Folk's admbistratioii 
found the United States In a turmoil from border to border. 
Instead of rejoicing over the vast new knds just gained 
from Mexico, they staggered in dismay over the burden of 
responsibility which those lands threatened to bring. To 
make matters worse, political leaders, instead of facing that 
responsibility with sober and steady pknning, were grasp- 
ing wildly here and there for any sort of a popular banner 
to lead them to victory. In the midst of all the confusion, 
the Whigs were quick-witted enough to set Zachary Taylor 
Old Rough and Ready hero of Mexican battles, at the 
head of their ticket. 

Now, if General Taylor had had General Washington's 
sense of responsibility for possessions won through victori- 
ous battles, the people of the United States might have 
sat back and taken a long deep breath of relief when the 
Whig ticket won. But so far as any one knew, Old Rough 
and Ready had no such feeling at all. It was his place to 
win battles and he won them gloriously one after another. 
After that well there was the government at Washington 
to take up the work where he left off. Would he have as- 
sumed the burden of that follow-up if he had been in 
Washington's place in the days before there was any well- 
established government? Could he do it now? After his 
long years of a soldier's life, could he serve as a statesman? 
Was there anything in his whole make-up to keep him from 
blundering hopelessly in the president's chair? 

Well, above all else, Zachary Taylor was honest 
directly, abruptly honest. Besides that he had the ability 
to learn quickly and to act on what he had learned with 

123 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

breath-taking swiftness. To be sure, he had plenty to learn 
in the political game, for, because of his unsettled life at 
army posts, he had never even voted in his whole life. In 
forming or working out political policies, he was as igno- 
rant as a child. 

The reason for all this was that Zachary Taylor was 
first, last, and always a soldier. Even as a small boy he had 
dreamed of being nothing else. No doubt that was because 
his own father had fought shoulder to shoulder with 
General Washington in the American War for Independ- 
ence. To be sure, there were also the Lees, the Madisons, 
the Monroes all relatives of his. No doubt he inherited 
from them the outward manners, the reserve, the ability 
to meet people rather easily, which came to his aid in the 
years of his presidency. 

Zachary Taylor began life in Orange County, Virginia, 
in . 1784, when George Washington was squaring his 
shoulders under the responsibilities growing out of his 
own victorious leadership. Those were the days also when 
magic tales of Kentucky were being brought over the 
mountains. The Taylors and their neighbors listened eagerly 
to those tales, then like others, packed their few household 
belongings and were off to try life in that far-famed hunting 
ground. 

Any boy living in Kentucky in those days learned early 
how to use a rifle and then did use it not only in hunting 
but in defending himself, as well as his home, from the 
savage tribes who never ceased to resent the White Man's 
invasion of their loved Kentucky. Long trails to salt licks, 
long nights and days hunting and fishing out under the 
open sky, long hours of swimming the Ohio from bank 
to bank all served to give Zachary Taylor a body like 
iron and a mind like lightning in its swift thinking. 

124 



NEW LANDS 



AND all this time Zachary Taylor kept right on dreaming 
of what he could and would do kter on as a soldier. When 
he was twenty-two he had his first chance to try out his- 
dreams by going down to the Southwest to help settle 
the trouble connected with Aaron Burr's conspiracy. Then, 
through the influence of James Madison, President Jef 
ferson gave the young Kentuckian his first commission, 
and he was off at last on a military career which was to 
last forty years. 

That career included service with General Harrison out 
in the Northwest; twenty years of army-post life includ' 
ing, in 1832, an expedition against Chief Bkck Hawk; 
three years of fighting against the Seminoles in Florida; 
and command of a department with headquarters at Baton 
Rouge, before he was sent into Texas in 1845 9 to protect 
America's claims in that territory, and to be ready to answer 
President Folk's command to march with his small force 
down to the Rio Grande. 

And by so doing to make it possible for the Congress of 
the United States to declare war with Mexico. No 
sooner was that war declared than Taylor proceeded to 
win one victory after another Pala Alto, Resaca de k 
Palma, Monterey. He also won the rank of major general for 
himself. Then, Congress having sent Major General Scott, 
commander'in-chief of the United States army, to Mexico, 
Taylor's troops were divided part to sail back to the 
United States, the rest to march into northern Texas 
under his own command. Naturally, General Taylor was 
angry* But he was also helpless and so started north as 
commanded. That was when, upon hearing that General 
Santa Anna with his Mexican army of twenty thousand 

127 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

men was advancing, he Zachary Taylor with five 
thousand men, boldly went to meet him, and won another 
victory. 

He also added, by that victory, more glory to that 
already surrounding his name in the North. And so, only 
increased his value to political leaders, for, some time 
earlier, the Whigs having decided to take advantage of the 
victorious general's popularity had begun a very skill- 
fully directed correspondence with Zachary Taylor con- 
cerning his country's need of him in the president's chair. 
Very reluctant at first, he finally yielded to the clever 
persuasion of the Whigs. His campaign was a noisy one, 
full of cheers and many very bright, very proudly waving 
flags. In the end, with the loud shouting still going on, he 
suddenly found himself facing a nation wanting to know 
what was to be done with the southwest land which he 
had so valiantly fought to win. 



As we have said, no man ever became president of the 
United States with less knowledge of what lay before 
him than Zachary Taylor. For example, there was the 
never-sleeping slavery trouble. What could he do when 
he, himself, was owner of a slave plantation near Baton 
Rouge? What could he do as 6tther-in4aw of Jefferson 
Davis, then a United States senator, and later to become 
president of the Southern Confederacy? Of course, he 
believed that the South was right, that the North was 
bitterly pushing the slavery question against all of the 
best Southern interests. Yet, being Zachary Taylor, and 
having accepted the presidency of both the North and 
the South, he was far too fair and too honest to favor one 
above the other. What did he do? 

128 



NEW LANDS 

To begin with, in his ignorance of all party manipuk' 
tions, he thought he would just not take sides with any 
party North or South. He would, on the other hand, 
stand aside while Congress passed or refused to pass bills. 
When bills became kws that was his time to step into 
action by seeing that those kws were executed. But 
Zachary Taylor had not been at the head of the United 
States government very long before he decided he could 
not and would not step aside for anything or anybody if, 
by so doing, he failed in his own duty as leader. Perhaps 
Millard Fillmore, his vice-president, helped him to see 
this. It is certain that William H. Seward, clever Whig 
anti'skvery leader and New York Senator, helped to make 
him see and feel his own power. 

However, no matter how he came to make up his mind 
when it once was made he struck straight from the shoulder 
with swiftness and force. He sent word to California 
and New Mexico advising those territories to draw up their 
state constitutions; then he announced to Congress that 
California had asked for admission as a free state. Immediate- 
ly the whole South was in an uproar. And Henry Cky, 
to quiet that uproar, proposed the Compromise of 1850, 
which, with its many propositions, instead of doing 
anything of the sort only transferred the center of the 
fight to Congress. 

In the meantime, President Taylor had just begun to 
manage the whole difficult situation iti a way to give 
heart to the great rank and file of American citizens when 
he was taken suddenly ill and died on July 4, 1850. What 
he might have done, therefore, for the future welfare of 
the new knds no one can measure. Certainly, however, 
America can take pride in the way he stood up in his full 
strength to assume his responsibility for those lands when 

129 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

once he grasped all such responsibility meant to the Ameri' 
can people. 



AND now Millard Fillmore stepped forth from the vice- 
presidency to assume that responsibility, Millard Fillmore 
born in a log cabin out in the pioneer country of western 
New York just fifty years before he took his oath of office 
as president. 

With the sturdy backbone so often found among the 
boys of that early frontier life, Millard went to school 
three months of the year, served as apprentice to a 
wool carder for five years, and, in one way and another, 
pulled himself up to the place where he, at nineteen, 
began to study law. For four years he worked for his 
board while studying and then was admitted to the bar 
to build up a remarkably solid practice and to become 
known far and wide as a man of high honor. 

Also to become known to the New York Whig party 
and to be sent by that party to the state legislature from 
Erie County in 1828. He served so well there that, in 
1832, he was elected to the United States House of Repre" 
sentatives and reelected four times. That brought him to 
his nomination for governor of New York in 1844; also 
to his first big defeat in the election that followed. How 
ever, he still kept the confidence of his party for he was 
made comptroller of New York in 1847 and a year later 
was elected vice-president on the Whig ticket headed by 
General Taylor. 

Which election also placed him in the presidency after 
the death of Zachary Taylor in 1850. He brought to that 
difficult time all of his ability as a successful lawyer, all 
of the assurance of a clean record as both citizen and 

130 



NEW LANDS 

political leader, all the vision of an honest, capable states-* 
man. And he stood the test of his administration with 
honor. 

But, because he signed and tried to enforce the fugitive 
skve law one of the propositions of Clay's Compromise 
Bill he became very unpopular among his own northern 
supporters. In consequence, he had no chance to succeed 
himself. Later, in 1856, his name came up again, presented 
by the American party, but he received only one electoral 
vote that of Maryland. 

He spent his kst years in Buffalo where he had begun 
his law career and from where he had gone to all his public 
positions. Evidently his early years of hardy endurance 
served him well for he lived on to die of old age, twenty- 
four years after his inauguration as president. 



133 



Chapter VI 

A NATION DIVIDED 



I. FRANKLIN PIERCE 



AD now into the fight over the extension of slavery 
in the new territory rode another dark horse 
Franklin Pierce who was to bring even greater confusion 
to an already bewildered and floundering people. For 
Franklin Pierce was a man from the North, from the old 
rock-ribbed New England North, who was to favor the 
South throughout his whole administration. If he had been 
a colorless man, if he had been an inexperienced one, his 
influence might not have been so upsetting. Instead, he 
had a vivid personality, he was a powerful speaker, and 
he knew the game of politics from the start through to 
the finish. 

Perhaps if he had not been just who he was the son 
of General Benjamin Pierce of New Hampshire the 
country might not have found it quite so hard to adjust 
itself to his Southern sympathies. But General Pierce and 
his whole family were Northerners and had been even 
long before the General himself fought with that scant 
handful of fearless Concord and Lexington men in 
America's first battle for liberty. Beginning with that 
world-famous charge across a village green, General 
Pierce had never stopped fighting through seven years 
or until final victory was won. Then, like so many others 
in those first important years following the revolution, 

134 



A NATION DIVIDED 

he took up the burden of responsibility for governing the 
possessions the war had won for governing them accord- 
ing to the principle of equal opportunity for every 
living within those possessions. To that end he served 
twelve years in the New Hampshire Legislature and then 
one term as governor.. of that state. 

Of course as the son of such a father, Franklin Pierce, 
born in 1804, grew up hearing state and national affairs 
discussed long and often. At sixteen, he went to Bowdoin 
College to meet Nathaniel Hawthorne and make him his 
close, loyal and lifelong friend; to win just a fair 
record as a scholar but a high one as a handsome, well- 
mannered, agreeable youth. Graduating at twenty, he 
studied kw and then began to practice in the village of 
Hillsborough where he had been born, and where he and 
his family were so well known. 

Those were the years when his father was serving as gov- 
ernor and then running for reelection. They were also the 
years when Andrew Jackson was striding up and down 
the land gathering followers under his banner of the newer 
democracy. Franklin Pierce, like many another live young 
American attracted by the Jacksonian doctrine, took his 
stand under that banner. 

And that banner led him, first, to his own state legis- 
lature where his own ability to lead pkced him in the 
speaker's chair for the kst two of his four years 5 term. 
After that it led him to the National House of Represen- 
tatives and from there to the Senate, where he arrived as 
the youngest member of that chamber. What with his 
youth, what with Calhoun, Cky, and Webster thundering 
forth their powerful oratory, Franklin Pierce was almost 
lost. Almost but not quite, for he did attract a little atten- 
tion through his own power to speak forcibly as well as 

137 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

by his ability to work hard and persistently. Nevertheless, 
he appears not to have cared for his position there as he 
resigned to return to his own law practice. 

Also, he appears to have made up his mind to stay 
with his practice. For when his state wanted him to run 
for governor, he said "No." He said the same thing when 
another opportunity was offered him to go back to the 
United States Senate. Still further, he even refused to be 
United States attomey-general when President Polk ap- 
proached him about that position. But when he was asked 
to take over the office of Federal district attorney he did 
so; no doubt because the work of that office helped him in 
his own law practice. 

After about five years, the steady progress of his prac" 
tice was upset by the war with Mexico. Of course the son 
of such a staunch old patriot as Benjamin Pierce would do 
just what . Franklin Pierce did throw aside everything 
else to fight for his country. At first he enlisted as a volun- 
teer private. Very shortly afterwards he was made colonel 
of a regiment, and then, still later, brigadier general of 
volunteers. 

As one of General Winfield Scott's command, he landed 
in Mexico in the summer of 1847* and took part in the 
march on Mexico City. Although badly hurt by falling 
from his horse at the Battle of Contreras, he went back 
into line the next day at Churubusco only to fall again 
and that time to be unconscious for hours on the battlefield. 
Despite all of that, he remained with the army until the 
war ended. 



ON coming back to New Hampshire he presided over 
the convention assembled to revise his state's constitution. 

138 



A NATION DIVIDED 

He was, therefore, just beginning to come back into the 
political game when the bitter fight at the close of the 
Taylor-Fillmore administration brought the Democratic con' 
vention to a deadlock over a nomination. But he had not 
come far enough back into public life to be well known, 
for when the name of Franklin Pierce came forth to break 
that deadlock, very few in the whole convention had much 
of an idea who he was or what he could do. The Whigs 
having gone forth to the victory four years before under the 
leadership of General Taylor, now tried another hero of the 
same war General Winfield Scott Franklin Piercers old 
commander-in-chief whom the whole country knew. What 
hope could the Democrats have to win by choosing a New 
Hampshire dark horse to run against such a nationally 
famous soldier? 

Well, to begin with, the Whigs had just had their 
chance with General Taylor, and the country was asking 
itself, what they had done with it. Had not the tangle over 
the new Southwest grown worse instead of better? On 
the other hand the Democratic candidate Franklin Pierce 
certainly offered new possibilities over which to ponder. 
Taylor and Polk had both been slave owners from the 
South. Here was a man from the far North but also a 
man whom Virginia not New Hampshire, his own state, 
had sponsored for president at the convention, and whom 
now the whole Southern Democratic party was ready to 
support. Could he in this curiously new position swing 
both North and South? Perhaps he could. 

And, of course, he did. So Franklin Pieice was elected. 
Straightway he chose his entire cabinet from Eastern and 
Southern leaders. And what is more he kept that cabinet 
straight on through his four years without one resignation 
breaking its combined force. His choice of cabinet members 

139 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

gave the whole country to understand at once that the 
new president was not going to stand for the North's 
anti-slavery principles; it also told that country he was not 
even going to stand neutral. On the other hand, President 
Pierce meant, undoubtedly, to favor the South and its 
skvery policies. 

Of course the country should have known that. Not only 
had he been elected by the South, but before that he had 
shown where he stood by favoring the Compromise of 
1850 that compromise of so many conflicting slavery 
clauses. Now, as president, he supported the Kansas- 
Nebraska Bill, the pet bill of Stephen A. Douglas, Senator 
from Illinois, which proposed to admit states organized 
from the Louisiana Purchase "with or without skvery as 
their constitution may prescribe at the time." The bill 
became a law. Now the government faced not only the 
Compromise of 1850 allowing the new Southwest to 
become states either skve or free; but it also faced the 
same proposition up in the older Northwest which, since 
1820, had been protected by the Missouri Compromise 
against all such possibility. 

With the skvery boundary line blown to nothing out 
in the Western states, bands of adventurers from Missouri 
self-named Sons of the South went flocking across the 
border into Kansas to seise and hold knd for Southern 
skve owners. At the same time settlers from the North 
many from far-off New Engknd came sweeping into the 
same territory to take knd for themselves. At once the 
two invading groups flew at each others throats, and 
right then and there the first blood was shed in the struggle 
which later was to grow into civil war. 

In the meantime, with all of this oncoming disaster fill- 
ing his eyes and his ears, Franklin Pierce was having to 

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A NATION DIVIDED 

turn some attention to foreign affairs. For example, there 
was the Gadsden Purchase under negotiation. This was 
finally completed, thereby adding 45,535 square miles of 
Mexican territory to that already acquired in the south- 
west. Also there was Commander Perry working over in 
Japan to open Japanese ports to American trade- and 
succeeding in his efforts by the treaty of 1854. Still further, 
the United States consular service was reorganised, a 
court of claims was set up, and greater protection was 
established for foreigners who were working to become 
American citizens. 

But to offset the fair fame these achievements in foreign 
affairs brought the United States, there was the disgraceful 
Ostend Manifesto. This was a very high-handed plan of the 
United States ministers to Great Britain, France, and Spain, 
who met at Ostend, Belgium, and proposed to annex Culm 
through purchase from Spain if possible but if not that way, 
then, by force. When the news of this reached America, the 
country sent up a loud cry of disapproval. President Pierce 
and his Congress, on their side, claimed that they knew 
nothing and had known nothing at any time about the 
Ostend proceedings. They also claimed that they knew 
nothing of an equally high-handed attempt by William 
Walker to seise Nicaragua and set up a new government 
there. 

With all these disturbing affairs at home and abroad to 
upset public welfare and national standing, Franklin Pierce 
came to the close of his administration. And even though 
still in the prime of life, to the close, as well, of all public 
service. To be sure, he was a candidate for renomination 
but he failed to receive the sanction of his party. Four 
years later, he was asked again to let his name be presented, 
but he refused. However, with his very attractive person' 

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THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

ality he had no trouble in filling the remaining years of his 
life with interest. And so he, as far as active leadership 
went, stood to one side all through the Civil War, as well 
as through some of the troublesome years following that 
war. He traveled widely with Nathaniel Hawthorne. He 
entertained his friends delightfully at Concord. And so he 
lived genially, pleasantly until his death in 1869. 



142 



II. JAMES BUCHANAN 



WITH the nation akeady beginning to split under their 
very feet, political parties of 1856 grasped hither and yon 
for a leader. In the midst of the uproar the Democrats 
clutched James Buchanan. Perhaps they did as well as any 
group could have done at the time. Kansas was akeady be- 
ing ripped from border to border by actual war. Every 
day the North was growing more bitter in its attacks on the 
South. Every day the South was growing more and more 
outraged over .the North^s interference with what a 
Southerner considered was none of a Northerner's business. 
Was James Buchanan a man who could please both North and 
South? Could he straighten out the Kansas tangle? Could 
he, in fact, perform the miracle of saving a Union divided 
against itself? Who was James Buchanan anyhow to be so 
chosen? 

To begin with, he was a Pennsylvania^ of good, staunch, 
unyielding Scotch-Irish Presbyterian blood. His father 
was a kind man, a sincere friend, and one with very high 
ideals of honesty. Of his mother, he himself says, 

"Under Providence, I attribute any little dis- 
tinction which I may have acquired in the 
world to the blessing which He conferred upon 
me in granting me such a mother." 

Added to that high inheritance of good blood and 
honest ideals, James Buchanan had also the advantage of hav- 
ing been born away back in 1791, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. 
That meant that he had grown up hearing men and women 
talk with great pride of all that they and their neighbors 
had done and still meant to do to make their national dreams 
of good, clean government come true. 

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THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

With all of that back of him, James Buchanan entered 
college to break rules right and left, to waste his time, and 
to have the college authorities write his father at the end 
of the first year, asking that he be not sent back. Upon 
receiving this letter, James's father simply handed it over 
to his son and left the room without saying a word. Some- 
thing in the way he left told James more effectively than 
words how deeply his father was hurt. And the boy cared. 
So he hurried off to the family pastor to ask him to intercede 
with the college for another chance. The pastor did so, 
James went back, stayed by his work through his remaining 
three years and graduated from Dickinson College in 1809 
with a good record in conduct and a high rank in his class. 

After that, came three more years for the study of law 
followed by admittance to the bar in the year of James 
Madison's declaration of the War of 1812. James Buchanan 
was then twenty-one and very much opposed in his young, 
mind to his country's plunging into another war with 
Great Britain. However, when fighting had to be, he 
enlisted as a private and helped in defending Baltimore. 

That done, he went back to his own profession fully 
expecting to attend to his own private affairs for the rest 
of his life. But he became engaged to an attractive young 
girl and had a slight quarrel with her just before she went 
away for a visit. She took suddenly ill while gone, and 
before the quarrel could be adjusted died. James Buch- 
anan, loving her with all of his very sensitive, loyal nature, 
was broken-hearted. In trying to forget his suffering he 
plunged into public life. But he never did forget and he 
never married. Later on he asked a niece to share his home 
and the social honors that came his way with the years. 
In turn he devoted himself to her welfare up to the last 
day of his long life. 

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* 

A NATION DIVIDED 



JAMES BUCHANAN was only twenty-three when he 
his political life -by being sent to the Pennsylvania legisla- 
ture. Seven years kter he went to the United States Senate 
where he stayed for ten years. In the meantime he had 
left the Federalist party to join the Jackson-Van Buren 
Democrats, which change in party affiliation no doubt 
brought him his appointment as minister to St. Petersburg 
from President Jackson. He accepted the appointment and 
negotiated a very important commercial treaty which was 
kept in force for eighty years. A year after his return from 
Russia, he again entered the United States Senate to remain 
nine years. 

As early as 1844, he was Pennsylvania's choice for 
president, but in the deadlock of the convention he with- 
drew to turn his votes over to James K. Polk. In turn 
President Polk made James Buchanan Secretary of State 
to serve through the troubled years of the annexation of 
Texas, the Mexican War, and the settlement of the Oregon 
boundary question with Great Britain. 

At the end of Folk's administration, Buchanan returned 
to private life for four years. After that President Pierce 
asked him to go as minister to Great Britain. Again he left 
his own plans, only to find himself, kter, in a very unfavor- 
able limelight through his work in the Ostend Manifesto. 

And right then, even with the United States protesting 
loudly over that manifesto, the Democratic party rewarded 
James Buchanan by placing his name at the head of its 
national ticket in the campaign covering the kst months 
of President Pierce's administration. To be sure, to offset 
his unpopularity over that Ostend affair, there was his 
long and faithful public service at home and abroad, plus 

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THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

the fact that he had always favored the interests of the 
Southern slave owners. For those two reasons he was 
elected. And the United States faced another four years 
under a president born and bred in the North but whose 
political loyalty led him to sympathise with the South. 

Distracted as he must have been by the struggle at home, 
President Buchanan, with his long years as foreign diplomat 
behind him, was too keenly interested in international 
relations to forget them now. A controversy over Great 
Britain's Central American policy was settled by a treaty 
with that nation, Nicaragua, and Honduras. In addition, 
the Buchanan administration, right in the face of nation' 
wide frowning on the Ostend Manifesto, kept on struggling 
to annex Cuba, and even to add parts of Central America 
and possibly Mexico. 

In the meantime, at home, the rift continued to widen 
between North and South. Into that rift the Supreme 
Court threw the Dred Scott decision. The North, under- 
standing that decision to mean that Congress had no power 
to compromise on slavery in the territories, refused 'to 
accept it. Senator Stephen A. Dougks, long-favored son of 
Illinois and advocate of the Kansas'Nebraska Bill with its 
doctrine of state's rights, came up for reelection to the 
Senate in 1858. Abraham Lincoln stepped forth to oppose 
him. Straightway Illinois became the center of the whole 
nation's slavery debate, with Dougks arguing for popular 
sovereignty and Lincoln against anything, everything 
that threatened the power of the Union. John Brown, from 
Kansas, marched out with nineteen followers "to free the 
skves in the South" to be hanged as a traitor, and to 
rouse a furor of shouting both for and against his dream. 

And where was President Buchanan while all of this 
was going on? He was chiefly busy with Kansas which 

148 



A NATION DIVIDED 

continued to seethe over Its admittance to the Union as free 
or slave. For a time he held that the people of Kansas 
should decide that matter for themselves. Later, he used 
all of his presidential influence to force those people to 
accept the Lecompton Constitution which only permitted 
the Kansans to say how many slaves they would accept 
but which gave them no chance at all to say that they 
wanted none. 

This change of the President with regard to the Kansas 
slavery question is thought now to have been brought about 
by his cabinet. But that same unsettled, apparently confused 
state of mind was even more evident in his message to 
Congress in December, 1860. If ever the government of the 
United States needed a strong decided voice it was then. 
Instead of meeting that need, however, President Buchanan 
said with one breath that no state had a right to secede; 
with the next, he stated that the government had no right 
to prevent secession; with the third, he announced that it 
was his duty as president to call out the army and navy 
to protect all government property and to enforce all 
federal kws. 

In addition, throughout all of those feverish days, he 
was using every effort to stop all public talk and writing 
against slavery. As a result of all this changing about, 
nobody really knew where President Buchanan stood on the 
slavery question. His cabinet members from the South 
resigned because they thought he was not really with them 
in their fight to retain slaves. On the other hand Northern 
leaders were quite equally sure they could not claim his 
support. His leadership, therefore, meant nothing to either 
side and worse than nothing in closing that gulf widening 
dangerously between the two sections. Is it any wonder 
then, that the closing months of his administration found 

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THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

South Carolina adopting an ordinance "to dissolve the 
Union'? Is it any wonder that within sixty days six other 
Southern states had joined South Carolina? 

What force could such a president have in the peace 
efforts that followed? Could any president have done any 
more now that the final break had come especially since 
that president was only marking time until he could leave 
Washington and the whole disastrous situation behind him 
to be handled by his successor Abraham Lincoln. 

Today, in looking back over James Buchanan's presidency, 
men have come to agree that the mistakes he made were so 
emphasised by the bitterness then raging that no one can 
really measure their importance. For the same reason any 
constructive work he may have attempted could not have 
had the support it deserved. And still further, today, 
clear-seeing leaders have concluded that James Buchanan 
was in reality an honest patriot but one who saw all sides 
of a question without having the power to choose where and 
when to lead out forcibly for any one side. 

If all that is true of James Buchanan, he must have had 
some satisfaction in living on quietly to see other leaders 
bring his government safely through the Civil War and 
set it going on its way again free from all destructive 
conflict. Those years, up to his death in 1868, he spent at 
his home in Wheatland, Pennsylvania. 



150 



Chapter VII 

WELDING 



I. ABRAHAM LINCOLN 



THEN, to the great glory and honor of the American 
people, Abraham Lincoln strode forth from the wind- 
swept prairie of Illinois. Once, years before, when standing 
in the sunny market place of old New Orleans, he had seen 
a slave girl auctioned off like a beast of burden. Then and 
there, with his young blood growing hot with pity, he had 
vowed: 

"If ever I get a chance to hit that thing, Fll hit 
it hard." 

Years later he was to see "that thing 1 " heave its ugly self 
high between the North and the South and was then to 
cry out in warning: 

" C A house divided against itself shall fall." 1 I 
believe this government cannot endure per- 
manently half slave and half free. I do not expect 
the house to fall, but I expect it will cease to be 
divided. It will become one thing or the other/" 

Now, in 1861, seasoned in body, in mind, and in soul by 
years of life out in the sunshine and storm of his own 
prairie land, he faced his chance to make good that long-ago 
vow. He faced, also, the chance to make good his prophecy 
concerning the "house divided." If he kept his vow he 

151 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

must make that house "all free" to save it from falling. 
Could he would he keep it? Well, he was the same man 
who once said: 

"Be sure you put your feet in the right place and 
then stand firm." 

Still further, no one had ever known Abraham Lincoln to 
step aside, step around, or step back when he had once set 
his feet in a place. 

To a nation left tottering after Buchanan, after Pierce 
yes, and after many another before those two that tall, 
lank, awkward man, swinging his way toward the White 
House and the president's chair must have promised some- 
thing of welcome steadiness. That nation knew he had 
fought many a battle. Sometimes he had won. Sometimes 
he had lost. But whether he won or lost, he stuck to his 
colors. And all the time winning or losing he kept right 
on telling his jokes, right on playing fair, right on being 
human with a heart that could pity, and a mind that could 
understand* If the nation swaying to a fall needed the firm- 
ness Abraham Lincoln promised, it needed just as much all 
of his keen sense of humor, all of his fine merciful kindness 
to make that firmness count fully to the great good of the 
Union. 



WHAT was tiSnre of blood and training in Abraham Lincoln's 
make-up to have brought him that fine balance of a merciful 
heart and a will of relentless power? 

About all that can be said of the Lincoln family is that 
they all, root and branch, loved above everything else the 
freedom of the great out-of-doors to be found only in a 
new unbroken wilderness. Landing in Massachusetts away 

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WELDING 

back in 1637, the family had pushed down into New Jersey, 
over into Pennsylvania, then across to Virginia, and from 
there into Kentucky where Abraham's own grandfather 
was killed by the Indians while peaceably clearing his new 
fields. 

And that left Abraham's father, Thomas Lincoln, a 
little fellow of six, to find his own way in life as best he 
could. He did that by wandering from settlement to settle- 
ment, working at any job on farm or in shop that offered 
itself. He went on by becoming a carpenter. All of which 
left him no time to learn much of anything else except to 
write his own name. And none of which, not even the 
lack of education, was anything unusual in the lives of 
Kentucky frontier boys. 

Or with girls either for that matter, as Nancy Hanks, 
Abraham's mother, could have said. For her family, Hke 
that of Thomas Lincoln, had come from Virginia into 
Kentucky. She, like Thomas, had been left alone as a child. 
But she had found a home with relatives where she grew 
up an attractive, happy girl who learned how to keep a 
clean, orderly house, how to cook, how to spin all very 
necessary things to know in pioneer life. 

But not at all easy things to do in the tiny one^window, 
one<loor log cabin standing near Nolin's Creek in Kentucky 
where Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809. 
And where he spent his first four years blinking at the fire 
snapping its way into the huge old chimney, or staring out 
across the small fields to where the tangled forest shut down 
like a green wall. .;- 

Then his father had moved on about fifteen miles to 
Knob's Creek. Here the boy first went to school and here 
he also began to help plant and hoe. Years afterwards he 
would laugh and tell half whimsically of how he, when only 

155 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

seven, had planted pumpkin seeds between hills of corn in a 
field lying along a steep slope, and of how later the rain had 
come in a rush to wash the whole top layer of soil, corn and 
pumpkin seed down into the ravine below. 

The same year of the pumpkin-seed story, the family 
packed their belongings to move north across the Ohio 
into a new wilderness in Spencer County, Indiana. It was 
there, after living two years in a cabin where rain, snow, and 
sunshine alike swept through the one unprotected opening, 
that Abraham Lincoln's mother died. It was from there 
that Thomas Lincoln traveled back to Kentucky to return 
with his second wife, Mrs. Sarah Johnston, who brought 
with her some furniture along with her own three children. 
Thrifty, wise, and kind, she turned the bleak cabin into a 
real home & home which Lincoln recalled gratefully all 
his life long. 

Although he was only ten when the new mother came, 
he was kept very busy helping on the farm. As he grew 
older he grew even busier. There was the plowing and 
planting in the spring. There was the harvesting and 
threshing in the summer. And always there was his ax to 
be used in clearing new fields, in splitting rails to fence in 
those fields, in hewing logs to build new cabins for new 
neighbors. As time passed he became a fairly good carpenter 
and thus helped finish many a home to the joy of some 
good woman who otherwise might have suffered just as 
his own mother had years before. After a time he began to 
earn as much as twenty-five cents a day! Which entire sum 
he immediately turned over to his father. 

With all of that work filling his days, Abraham Lincoln 
could only go to school, as he himself says, "by littles." 
Perhaps, altogether, he never had more than a year of 
regular schooling. But how he read! Fortunately any book 

156 



WELDING 

was a delight to him, for books were scarce out along the 
frontier. But it did not seem to matter to Abraham whether 
the volume was Aesop's Fables, the Bible, Pilgrim's Progress, 
or dryas<lust Statutes of Indiana. 

But if anyone thinks Lincoln spent his boyhood just 
working and reading he is sadly mistaken. There were the 
long winter evening neighborhood gatherings about the 
home fireplace. There were husking bees, spelling bees, 
the making of fiery speeches, and the telling of marvelous 
yams to wide-eyed, breathless listeners. There was the 
never-ending wrestling, first with one fellow, then with 
another. And always there was the Ohio River with its 
swimming, its skating, and its boats going up and down, 
with time to put into shore and tell of what the world was 
Hke outside of the settlement where Abraham lived. 

After a time Lincoln began to wonder why that river 
could not bring him some money as well as so many hours 
of sheer joy. With that in mind he finally managed to get an 
old rowboat all of his own. Shortly afterwards a couple of 
travelers came along who wanted to get across the Ohio. 
Abraham was right on hand with his old boat to row them 
over and then to have his breath fairly leave his body 
when they gave him a whole big silver dollar for the 
trip. 

A year later, that same river brought him his first real 
glimpse of life outside of his own settlement, when a trader 
asked him to help take a boat load of produce down to 
New Orleans. He was nineteen then nineteen and stand- 
ing six foot four in his homespun jeans. So with his eyes 
fairly bulging out of his head, he paddled away down the 
Ohio, down the Mississippi, seeing strange sights, strange 
people and earning the unbelievable sum of eight dollars a 
month. 

157 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

But on his return he did not have long to spin the tale of 
his travels to his old friends, for Thomas Lincoln had 
tarried in one spot just as long as he could. So, once more, 
in the early spring of 1830 5 the Lincoln family, together 
with a few neighbors, struck the trail north and west. 
This time the household belongings were packed in covered 
wagons, drawn by sturdy slow-going oxen. There were 
rivers to cross filled with melting ice. There were roads 
soft with mud into which the wheels sank to the hubs. 
There were wilderness tracks that slapped the travelers 
with snow-covered branches. But what of all that? Beyond 
lay new lands, new -homes, and Hfe was full of adventure 
on the way. 

Those homes were found near Decatur, Illinois. There 
Abraham Lincoln swung his ax early and late cutting down 
trees, hewing them into logs for cabins or splitting them 
into rails to fence in the freshly cleared fields. Then he 
helped plow those fields and harvest the first crops. By 
that time life was well started in another new settlement. 



AND Abraham Lincoln was now twenty-one. If ever he 
meant to start out for himself it was time for him to be 
doing it. So he said good'by to his father's home and went 
forth into the world alone. He had no money; but he had 
strength and he knew how to work. He was leaving many 
of his old friends behind; but he knew how to make new 
ones; and he knew how to keep them. Life in those days 
promised a lot to Abraham Lincoln. 

For a time about all he could do was to work for his food, 
for a place to sleep, and for barely enough to pay for the 
one short-sleeved, short-legged suit of jeans he had to have 
once a year. In the midst of this struggle, Denton Orcutt, 

158 



WELDING 

a trader of Sangamon county, appeared with a proposition. 
for another trip down to New Orleans. To start on the trip 
one had to get to Springfield. To get to Springfield a canoe 
had to be made. And then after reaching Springfield a the 
flat-bottomed boat had to be built, which meant that 
Abraham's faithful ax again came into use in the felling 
of trees and on to the fitting in of the kst stout timber 
before the cargo could finally be loaded, and the river 
journey begun. 

But all the delays, all the hours of work were forgotten 
in the long, long days that took the boat lazily south. After 
those days, came a month of strange scenes in old New 
Orleans among them that never-forgotten one of the slave 
girl cowering pitifully on the auctioneer's block. 

Evidently those distracting interests did not interfere 
with the business success of the trip, for Orcutt was 
sufficiently pleased with the profits to ask Abraham Lincoln 
to work as a clerk in his small store at New Salem, Illinois. 
Now, there were gangs in those days just as today gangs 
of young men under leaders whose fame rested solely on 
their ability to out-wrestle, out-fight not only any member 
of their own gang, but any new knight who might come 
their way, Abraham Lincoln, with his long, hard-muscled 
body, his power to attract and to hold people by his stories 
and arguments soon loomed high as such a knight. They 
were not slow in beginning their attacks on the new clerk. 
And he was not slow in taking them on one, two, or 
three at a time just as they chose. Neither was he slow in 
cleaning up the whole lot, cleaning them up in good rousing 
fights and then winning them over by his never-ending 
good humor. 

At the same time he was winning the older people of die 
village by his square business dealings. As a result within 

159 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

a few months he was known far and wide as Honest AF 
and as the most popular young man in all New Saleii. 
But more important than that, for the first time in his life, 
Abraham Lincoln could not help seeing that he had power 
to lead. 

What could he do what did he need most to do to 
make that power grow? Apparently he, himself, concluded 
that he needed to improve his grammar. At once he was off 
six miles across country to borrow the only text on that 
subject existing in the whole countryside. Then he sat 
down or stood up between waiting on customers and 
devoured that book from lid to lid. That done, he announced 
that he would be a candidate for the next election to the 
General Assembly of Illinois. By that time, two years had 
passed since he had started out from his father's home 
alone. He was now twenty-three. 

But most unfortunately for his political campaign, that 
was the spring and summer of the Black Hawk War. Of 
course that war had to be won so Abraham Lincoln 
enlisted as a private, immediately became a captain, and 
led his own troops off to camp. Luckily for himself, his 
troops, and the victories following, his command never got 
beyond that camp. Even so, he had trouble enough, for he 
knew nothing whatever of military tactics, and his men 
were equally ignorant. So he spent the whole summer 
getting out of one scrape only to plunge into another. 

Then the war ended and he went back home just in 
time to meet defeat at the fall election. Once more he faced 
a winter without work and without money. But his credit 
was good; so he and a friend started a store of their own. 
That store failed. And now Lincoln not only faced life 
without work and without money, but with a debt of 
$1,100 worrying him through many a sleepless night. 

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WELDING 

To anyone except Abraham Lincoln, life certainly must 
have looked black. Maybe it did to him. But, as luck would 
have it, he had, through a trade in his store, come into 
possession of a barrel full of Blackstone's Commentaries. 
He found them fascinating and began to study them day and 
night. John Todd Stuart, a lawyer friend, gave him en" 
couragement, and New Salem made him village postmaster. 
So with those two helps, plus a little money from surveying, 
he decided to be a lawyer. Of course there were interrupt 
tions on the way. To begin with, being Abraham Lincoln, 
he had to make good what he had started concerning his 
election to the legislature. And he did by winning Ms 
seat in that body two years after his first defeat, and by 
continuing to win, so that by the time he had completed 
his study of law, and was admitted to the bar, he had 
established himself fairly well as a political leader of his 
own district. 

He was now ready to move on to Springfield to set up 
his own law practice there and a little later to establish 
a home of his own by marrying Mary Todd, a native 
Kentuckian, like himself, but also, like him, now a resident 
of Springfield. 

By the time he was thirty-three, life in his own town, 
even in his own state, was being fairly good to Abraham 
Lincoln. He decided, therefore, to move on still farther and 
see what it might have to offer htm nationally. To that end 
he refused a fourth nomination to his state legislature in 
order to accept one for Congress at Washington. And he 
met defeat in the first national election just as he had met 
it at the close of his first state campaign. But he was no 
more daunted by the second defeat than he had been by the 
first. That is why he walked out again in the campaign four 
years later to win by a big majority. 

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THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 



AND so we find Abraham Lincoln in Washington ready to 
take his seat in Congress as a Whig representative in 1846. 
Those were the days of turmoil following the annexation 
of Texas; the days of President Folk's declaration of war 
with Mexico; and the days of hot discussions over what 
was to be done with skvery in the newly acquired South- 
west. Lincoln, of course, with his sense of fair play, was 
against the Mexican war. Equally, or more so, he was 
against skvery in the new territory. But even though he 
must have resented the whole situation, he did not succeed 
in making much of an impression on those about him. At 
the end of his one term he was not even a candidate for 
reelection. Perhaps that was because he really hoped for an 
appointment as commissioner of the General Land Office. 
Instead, however, of being given that, he was offered the 
governorship of the far-off Oregon territory, which he 
refused. 

After a swing through New Engknd to make a series 
of campaign speeches, Abraham Lincoln went back to 
Springfield to settle down to his kw practice as if nothing 
could ever move him out of it again. Never taking a case 
which he felt he could not honestly defend, never over- 
charging, always sharply keen, he -built up a substantial 
state-wide reputation as a kwyer who was equally fair to 
all clients rich or poor. 

Even while busily defending a long list of clients, Lincoln, 
however, could not close his eyes or his ears to the tumult 
going on over skvery. There was his own vow never 
forgotten taken long ago to "hit that thing hard." There 
was the present question sweeping the whole land into 
fury. Should new states be admitted as skve or free? Of 

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WELDING 

course, Abraham Lincoln was alive to all that, but even so 
he managed to attend to his own private business fairly 
well until Stephen A. Douglas, senator from Illinois, struck 
out with his full political power in support of the Kansas- 
Nebraska bill. 

That was too much for Lincoln to stand quietly. And so 
out he strode with all his great awkward strength of mind, 
with all of his great heart hot with anger, to meet Stephen 
A. Douglas. At first that meeting may have seemed to be 
more state than national in its importance. But two years 
later, in 1856, Lincoln had nevertheless become well enough 
known to receive 110 votes for vice-president at the 
Philadelphia convention of the new Republican party. 
That same year, as presidential elector, he spoke throughout 
Illinois. 

But even though leaders had long before begun to reckon 
with Illinois it was not until 1858, when Stephen A, 
Dougks came up for reelection as United States senator, 
that the full white light of national interest first flooded 
that state. It was then that Abraham Lincoln, stepping 
forth as Republican candidate for the same Senate seat, 
startled the country by his famous warning that "A house 
divided against itself shall fall." That warning was the 
opening cry of the famous Lincoln-Dougks debate which, 
under the two leaders, swept up and down the whole 
state while the nation looked on in a white heat of excite- 
ment either for or against the extension of slavery. 

In the end Lincoln lost the seat in the Senate Stephen 
A. Dougks won the election. In winning that election, 
however, Douglas lost his chance to be president. And 
Lincoln won his. The fire and logic of Lincoln's speeches 
had echoed out over the knd with such force that other 
states now wanted to hear him. For a year he traveled 

163 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

through the Middle West and the East, hurling his challenge 
of fct free or slave" far and wide. Illinois grew steadily more 
proud of him. The new Republican party saw him standing 
head and shoulders above every other leader. In the spring 
of 1860 that party nominated him for president. In the fall 
they elected him. 

But between his election in November and his inaugura- 
tion the following March, the Southerners had time to 
work great disaster. The South knew Abraham Lincoln's 
stand on slavery. It should have known also that if ever it 
had a chance to be heard and to be treated fairly, it would 
have that right under him. Instead of considering that, the 
leaders seemed to take his election as a threat against not 
only their right as individuals to own slaves, but the right 
of southern states to determine their own policies with 
regard to slavery. As a result, with Buchanan sitting help- 
lessly in the president's chair, with Abraham Lincoln 
fretting his heart out in helpless anxiety, seven Southern 
states seceded to organise a new government called the 
Confederate States of America with Jefferson Davis 
president, and to seise military posts and public buildings 
within their border. 



BY the time, therefore, that Abraham Lincoln took his oath 
of office March 4, 1861, the "house divided" certainly 
seemed toppling to its fall. But not to Abraham Lincoln, 
for he immediately declared that no state having once been 
a part of the Union could ever be separated from it. At the 
same time he warned the seceding states that while he had 
no intention of interfering with them so long as they 
respected government authority, he did intend to see that 
they recognised that authority. 

164 



WELDING 

The first exercise of that Federal power began early in 
the next month when Lincoln ordered a leet to carry 
supplies to the starving troops shut up by Confederate 
forces at Fort Sumter in the Charleston harbor. The 
President announced clearly that he did not mean to re- 
inforce the fort. At the same time he announced that he 
would in no way tolerate any interference with the work of 
unloading the supplies at Charleston. The Confederates 
defiantly answered by opening fire on Fort Sumter and by 
keeping up that fire until the Federal troops, thirty-four 
hours later, were forced to march out. 

And that news came to Lincoln, as the president who 
had just sworn "to preserve, protect, and defend" the 
government of the United States. What did he do? Fort 
Sumter surrendered on April 14. On April 15th, the follow- 
ing proclamation went forth from Washington: 

"Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President 
of the United States, in virtue of the power in 
me vested by the Constitution and the laws, 
have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call 
forth, the militia of the several states of the 
Union to the aggregate number of seventy-five 
thousand, in order to suppress said combination, 
and to cause the laws to be duly executed/" 

Civil War was begun. Everybody, at first, believed it 
would soon be over. But within three weeks, another call 
went out for over 64,000 soldiers and 18,000 sailors. And 
where the first enlistment had been set for a three months" 
term, the second was made for three years. Even although 
he had to give up the hope of ending the trouble swiftly, 
President Lincoln kept right on trying to steady the toppling 
Union. He always wanted to save that Union even more 

165 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

than he wanted to free the slaves. He hoped to do both. 
To that end he urged the slave owners to free their slaves 
in return for money paid by the United States government. 
But the Southern states by that time were not only fighting 
to keep their slaves, but even more bitterly to defend their 
state rights to do as they pleased in the matter. 

So the war, instead of ending quickly, increased in terrible 
bitterness. The early Southern Virginia victories were 
balanced later by Northern ones down along the lower 
Mississippi and thus the Union forces managed to cut off 
the Western Confederate states from those to the East. 
Over in Virginia, General Lee's army, at first successful in a 
march toward Washington, was swept back in defeat. 
After that Abraham Lincoln looked out over his countrymen 
and seeing them more steadily grim through long days of 
marching, long nights of watching, through hours and days 
of relentless fighting, decided it was now as good a time as 
any to strike and strike hard. On January first, 1863, 
he, therefore, sent his Emancipation Proclamation ringing 
out over the whole land North and South ordering and 
declaring: 

"that all persons held as slaves within said 
designated states and parts of states are, and 
henceforth shall be, free." 

But to order was one thing; to get Congress to frame 
that order into a constitutional amendment was another; 
and, then, after that to wait and watch through long 
weary months while the different states accepted or refused 
that amendment was still a third. 

That is why the nation had a chance to test fully 
Abraham Lincoln's never-ending patience, never-ending 
understanding; but also his never-ending will to finish 

166 



WELDING 

what he once had begun. He was sure he had set his feet 
in the right place. He meant to stand firm. 

And he did. It took one whole year to bring Confess 
up to the point of proposing the Thirteenth Amendment 
to the states for ratification. It took another year for a 
sufficient number of those states to make that ratification 
sure. But once done, never again could any one of the 
United States hold slaves. The long, long struggle over 
that was now ended for ever and a day. Abraham Lincoln 
had certainly "hit hard.' 1 

In the meantime, the war dragged on. Day after day 
Lincoln listened to the messages coming up from the South* 
Loss of life, destruction of property, ruthless victories, ky 
on his heart like lead. As if all of that were not enough for 
one man and one nation to face, England took sides with the 
South, fitted out Confederate privateers, and generally 
disregarded Americans policy of neutrality. To add to that 
foreign complication, France, seeing the United States 
absorbed in her own troubles, seized her chance to establish 
her protection of Maximilian of Austria as emperor of 
Mexico; which meant that the Monroe Doctrine was in 
danger. 

And along with the Southern war campaigns, along with 
his struggles with Congress, along with the bickerings 
within his own cabinet, along with all these disturbing 
foreign interferences, President Lincoln's first term drew 
near a close. There was no question about his being nomi' 
nated. His party stood back of him in that to a man. But 
the campaign that followed was one to try the soul of any 
man. The people of the country were sick to death of 
war. The North bitterly resented the draft which Lincoln 
now had to order to reinforce the troops fighting to hold 
the Union together. Army officers, jealous of the President's 

167 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

promotions, fought his reelection. And worse than all 
there were those close to Lincoln at Washington who never 
ceased scheming against him and his plans. 

In the face of all that Abraham Lincoln was elected two 
to one over General McClellan, his opponent. Then as the 
winter passed news of victory succeeding victory came 
North. Sherman began his victorious march to the sea. 
Grant closed in on Lee near Richmond. And with hope 
stirring his tired heart, Lincoln, in his second inaugural 
address, appealed to the nation: 

""with malice toward none; with charity for all; 
with firmness in the right as God gives us to 
see the right, let us strive to finish the work we 
are in." 

That was in March. In April he was down in Richmond 
to see the defeated Southern army march out of that city. 
The slaves were freed. The war was won. Now there lay 
ahead the stupendous task of healing the breach between 
the North and the South the task of bringing the bitterly 
rebellious states back again to loyal support of the Union. 
But, after all, that was a work of patient, never-ending 
sympathy and understanding. Lincoln had never once lost 
that in the whole long weary struggle. 

So he went back to Washington deeply glad and not at 
all daunted by the days to come. He had come thus far and 
the great mercy of the man made him eager to go on. 
Three days after his return from Richmond, he and his 
wife, together with some friends, went to see a play at 
the Ford Theatre. There, while he was resting, at peace, 
and happy, John Wilkes Booth came into his box and fired 
on him from the rear. Without a cry, without a start, the 
President fell forward just as he sat there quietly relaxed 

168 



WELDING 

and smiling. Without regaining consciousness, without 
speaking, he died a few hours later. 

He rests today where he longed to rest back among his 
own townspeople in Springfield under the wide skies of 
Illinois. His own state remembers him in the St. Gauden's 
statue at Chicago, where he stands as if sweeping with 
his eyes his whole loved knd of broad plains and magnificent 
streams. His government remembers him as a figure of 
tremendous power, gating out between the temple'like 
pilkrs of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington out 
towards the Washington Monument, out over the dome of 
the Capitol and beyond over a country beginning to forget 
the old savage hurt of civil war under the flag of the Union. 



169 



Chapter VIII 

STARTING ALL OVER 



I. ANDREW JOHNSON 



whole land lay desolate under the soft spring skies 
JL of that April of 1865. To be sure the war was over - 
but what of it? In the North there was scarcely a house 
where death had not entered. In the South, not only death 
had bowed the people low, but in all that broad, sunny 
country there was barely an acre left which had not been 
trampled over, fought over, laid bare by the destruction of 
war. In between the two sections bitter hatred rose like a 
wall bkck and pitiless. Abraham Lincoln with his great 
understanding heart was dead. 

And Andrew Johnson was taking Abraham Lincoln's 
pkce in the president's chair Andrew Johnson, a man 
from the "poor South" whom the Southern aristocrats 
despised and ridiculed; Andrew Johnson whom the North- 
ern political leaders akeady distrusted and feared; also, let 
it be remembered the same Andrew Johnson whom Abra^ 
ham Lincoln, himself, had chosen to be his vice-president. 
For the new president, no matter what mistakes he had 
made in the past, no matter how many he still was bound to 
make in the future, stood yesterday, today, and tomorrow, 
fearlessly, powerfully, to preserve and protect the Union. 
Since his purpose was certainly the purpose of the North, 
and since even the South had now to accept that purpose 
as part of the price of defeat, why didn't why couldn't 

170 



STARTING ALL OVER 

the new president and those about him at the Capitol 
have come together in that April of 1865, to let bygones 
be bygones and to work out that purpose for the of 
the whole nation? Of course, one of the reasons they could 
not was because the war was still too close; the land still 
too drenched with hatred and dark suspicion, for any cue 
group to trust, unquestioningly, any other group. Even 
Abraham Lincoln, if he had lived, would have met mistrust 
and doubt in his efforts to bring the people together. 

And Andrew Johnson was not an Abraham Lincoln, 
even though the two had alike fought their way against 
great odds to the high pkce both held. Perhaps the one 
greatest difference between the two lay in their own 
attitude toward the world. Lincoln had a nice sense of his 
own pkce among people; he never, apparently, felt beneath 
any man; he never, apparently, felt above any. On the other 
hand, Andrew Johnson, shy and great-hearted because of 
his very shyness was always on the defensive, always on 
the lookout for opposition and, so, always found it. Then 
when that opposition came he struck struck often in a 
hard-headed, raw, uncontrolled manner that caused people 
to misjudge, not only the man, but all that the mafi was 
trying to do. 

In looking back, one wonders what might have happened 
if Andrew Johnson had been a native of the free and equal, 
man-to-man, western frontier as Lincoln was. Instead, 
Andrew was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1808 
just a year before Lincoln began life out in the pioneer 
cabin of Kentucky. North Carolina was anything but a 
pioneer country anything but a land where men were born 
free and equal, for there was a well-established ckss of 
aristocratic slave owners who naturally governed all social 
and political life; and there was, also, a poor ckss, who as a 

173 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

rule, expected the aristocrats to have most of the world's 
good fortune and so made no effort to gain either position 
or money for themselves. Jacob and Polly Johnson, 
Andrew's father and mother, belonged to that poor class. 

What is more, they were quite contented and comfortable 
in it, for Jacob was the very popular porter of Raleigh's 
once famous Casso's Inn, and loved by the whole town as an 
honest, jolly man who apparently had no ambition except 
to be liked, to guide hunting and fishing parties, and to see 
that hungry guests were fed bountifully at the inn. Polly, 
his wife, was equally respected and liked. They lived 
when not in the inn itself in a rough little cottage inside the 
inn yard. And it was there, in that cottage, that Andrew 
Johnson came into the world during the week of Christmas 
festivities for which Casso's Inn was famous. 

Three years later Jacob Johnson leaped into a stream to 
save two of his friends, guests of the inn, from drowning. 
He succeeded in saving both of the men, but he himself 
died from the exposure and exhaustion the effort cost. He 
was so well remembered that fifty years later his towns- 
people erected a monument to him, inscribed: 

"In memory of Jacob Johnson. An honest man, 
loved and respected by all who knew him. 11 

Which was all very well but which didn't help Polly, 
his wife, to find clothes and shelter for herself, small three- 
year old Andrew, and William, then eight. For while 
Jacob Johnson had many friends, he never had had any 
money. His wife, therefore unable to read or write but 
honest and hard working now set up a hand loom and 
became known as Polly the Weaver. But work as hard as 
she could, the struggle proved too great. So she married 

174 



STARTING ALL OVER 

again three years kter married Turner Dougherty 
had no more money than Jacob Johnson had had. 

It was necessary* therefore, for the boys of the family to 
begin early to earn their own living; so William was ap* 
prenticed to the town tailor, and, kter, when he was 
fourteen, Andrew was bound to the same man. In turn for 
whatever work they could do, the master agreed to feed, 
clothe, and teach his trade to the two boys. Since neither 
boy could probably do very much or vary good work, 
they had to make up for their kck of skill by sewing early 
and kte. It wasn't an easy job bending over, sewing all 
day long but it is not on record that Andrew Johnson 
ever once whined. When once through for the day, however, 
how he raced, how he tore the very clothes off of his tack 
until the tailor's wife, in despair, sewed him up in a coarse, 
heavy, homespun shirt, proof against even his swelling 
muscles. Even in those early years, Andrew was always out 
in front leading, shouting commands to all the town 
boys, shouting them so that wherever he went, whatever 
he did, the other boys followed. 

In the meantime, he had begun to listen eagerly to men 
who came into the shop talking of public affairs. Two of 
those men, Mr. Litchford, foreman of the shop, and Dr. 
Hill, saw the boy's interest and stopped to read to him 
from their papers, to talk over what they read, and then to 
give him speeches and essays which he kboriously spelled 
out for himself. That was all he could do to educate him- 
self even if his work had given him more time; for there 
wasn't so much as one small schoolhouse in the whole 
town of Raleigh. 

But by the time he was sixteen and standing five feet, 
five inches tall, the very live, datk-eyed boy could stand the 
dull days of stitching no longer. So he ran away. And 

175 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

William ran with him. Of course, the tailor was outraged 
and did everything he could to trace the two boys, but they 
managed to get clear away and to be free at kst. When 
they reached Carthage, seventy miles distant, Andrew 
set up his own tailor shop in a shack there and almost at 
once had all the work he could do. But his very success 
threatened him with discovery by his old master, so he and 
William moved on to Laurens. Evidently Andrew had by 
that time begun to be very uncomfortable over his broken 
bond. Besides, it was winter and probably home seemed 
more attractive to him. At any rate he and his brother 
worked their way back to Raleigh and Andrew hunted 
up his old master and asked to be taken back. The tailor, 
in his turn, asked Andrew to furnish security. That was 
impossible for Andrew to do so that effort ended. 

Andrew was now not only penniless and without work, 
but, because of having broken his apprenticeship once 
before, was unable to get work. His stepfather, mother, 
and brother were about as bad off as he was. At last they 
all decided to leave Raleigh, and to cross over the mountains 
into the new knd beyond. Piling their shabby belongings 
high in a small, two-wheeled cart, they were off to climb 
low hills, ford broad streams, then to follow the Daniel 
Boone trail over the mountains. Taking turns riding and 
walking, sleeping out under the open sky, shone on by the 
sun, beaten by storms the way seemed never-ending. 
At last, however, the day did come when they stood, 
fairly breathless, gating down on the promised land below. 



THAT land was to become the most beloved spot in all 
America to Andrew Johnson. The town of Greeneville 
set down in its midst was to be bis own town for the 

176 



STARTING ALL OVER 

rest of his life. From there he was to go forth many 
but he was always to come back as one does to the one 
pkce in the world which means home. It was September, 
1826, when the Johnson family arrived in Greeneville. For a 
time Andrew worked hither and yon until the Greeneville 
tailor gave up his work. Then, he, at once, rented a shop 
of his own and hung up his famous sign "A. Johnson 
Tailor Shop." 

There Andrew Johnson began stitching again 9 began 
pushing his hot goose over steaming cloth, began to turn 
out the best clothes in all that countryside. And continued 
to do so while young men and old men gathered in that 
shop to talk as he sewed as well as through long hours 
after that sewing was done for the day. Among those who 
came was Blackstone Daniel, the village plasterer, who 
soon became Andrew's closest friend, to remain so all of 
his Hfe. Then, there was Sam Milligan, a graduate of 
William and Mary College, a teacher at Greeneville College. 

And there was Elsie McCardle, Scotch, brown^haired, 
hasel-eyed, wholesome, loyal, and very good to look at. 
Andrew met her shortly after he reached Greeneville. 
They were married the next year. Now, even with all of 
his own efforts, Andrew could then barely read, could 
spell only the simplest words, and could write even less 
well than he could read and spell. But Elsie McCardle 
could do all of those things quite well So she began to 
teach Andrew. She kept right on teaching him until he 
could write a readable page, spell as well as most men of 
his time, and read everything far and wide. Even more than 
all that, Elsie McCardle was always there in Andrew 
Johnson's Hfe steady and sure. 

In the meantime, Sam Milligan was lending Andrew 
books, while Andrew, himself, was walking the four miles 

177 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

out to the college the four miles back as well every 
Friday night to the meeting of a debating club which he had 
joined. And the college boys formed the habit of gathering 
in Andrew's tailor shop to thresh out every problem of 
human life. To keep up with all this Andrew had to keep 
well informed on all news of the day, and, as well as he 
could, on all matters of philosophy, religion, and govern- 
ment; To that end, he hired a reader at fifty cents a day to 
fill him full of thoughts and facts, while he, himself, con- 
tinued to stitch. 

And to stitch so well that the tailor shop prospered 
financially. In truth, that shop did so well that by the end 
of four years, Andrew and Elsie moved from the one room 
where they had lived ever since they were married to 
a home of their own for which they paid a thousand dolkrs. 
Shortly after that, they bought a building, moved it down 
the street into the corner of the yard, and Andrew again 
nailed up his sign of "A. Johnson Tailor." 

Even before he moved into this new home, however, 
Andrew had begun to lead in Greeneville's political game. 
Up to then that game had been played almost entirely by 
the dominating aristocrats of Greeneville. But now affairs 
changed, for Andrew Johnson became alderman before he 
was twentyone, was reelected twice, and then became 
mayor at twenty-two to keep that office for three years. 

By that time not only the town of Greeneville knew 
Andrew Johnson as a prosperous young man who had a 
keen eye in political leadership, but the whole countryside 
of east Tennessee also knew him. That countryside was 
made up of small farms of less than a hundred acres, where 
the people raised enough for a living, where there was 
rarely more than two hundred dolkrs in cash coming into 
any one home in a year, where women wove, men hunted, 

178 



STARTING ALL OVER 

trapped, and fished to supplement what their yielded, 
It was there, also, that Andrew Johnson found the 
of a man of whom he said : 

"When bis country calls him, he will unhitch his 
horse, leave the plough standing idle in the 
furrow, shoulder his musket, and march to die 
front." 



AND east Tennessee was also the knd of Andrew Jackson. 
It was but natural, therefore, that Andrew Johnson should 
begin by being a Jacksonian Democrat and continue to be 
one to the kst day of his life. It was also natural that his 
town and country neighbors should see much of the same 
political wisdom in young Johnson that had led them to 
send Jackson to their state legislature and then to 
Washington. 

Whereupon, recognizing that wisdom, they saw to it 
that Johnson served as delegate to the State Constitutional 
Convention. He made good there. They sent him to 
represent them in the House of Legislature. He proved good 
there also and they continued to send him for ten straight 
years before they decided that they needed him more at 
home than in Washington and so brought him back to be 
governor of Tennessee from 1853 to 1857- Immediately' 
after that he went back to Washington; this time to the 
Senate where he was to stay until 1862. 

Which meant, that, by the end of that time, Andrew 
Johnson had been continuously in public service for thirty' 
four years. What had he done in those years? How had he 
kept faith with his friends back in east Tennessee? As a 
Democrat after their own heart, he had stood for low 

179 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

tariff, for acquiring new territory, for the opening of free 
western lands, and always never forgetting his own 
struggle for an education for free schools. Also, as a 
member of Southern democracy he worked and voted to 
extend slavery into new territory and to quiet all opposition 
to it. 

He also worked and voted to defeat Abraham Lincoln 
for president. But, although he was in sympathy with his 
own South on the slavery question, he certainly was not 
in sympathy with them if slavery meant a break with the 
Union. Once having agreed to the Constitution of the 
United States, he argued, no state could withdraw. That 
being the way he felt, he sat firm as a rock, immovable in 
his seat in the Senate when the Southern senators withdrew 
as their states seceded. Of course, there was tremendous 
excitement. Could it be possible that one of the South's 
own most powerful politicians was deserting that South? 
In the midst of the wild clamor, Andrew Johnson stood up 
to hurl forth: 

"Though I fought against Lincoln, I love my 
country. I love the Constitution. Senators 
my blood, my existence I would give to save the 
Union." 

Was that when Lincoln first really saw Andrew Johnson 
saw him and knew him as a man whom he could trust 
when he needed him most? Perhaps so. For certainly the 
man from Tennessee stood tall and stood firm through all 
of those miserably anxious months while Lincoln, himself, 
sat out in Springfield helplessly waiting for James Buch' 
anan's term of office to end and his own to begin. 

He stood even more tall and more firm when his own 
beloved Tennessee withdrew from the Union as it did 

180 



STARTING ALL OVER 

just after Lincoln took his oath of office. He he 

liked those men down in his state; but 
dead wrong with them now. The Union army by its 
western victories in the spring of 1862 opened the way for 
Johnson to go back and set that wrong right. Lincoln 
helped by appointing him military governor of his conquered 
state. With that power and his own knowledge of his 
people, he managed to restore and start running a loyal 
state government in Tennessee. 

Abraham Lincoln, by now, not only saw in Johnson a 
man whom he could trust for his loyalty to the Union, 
but a man whose political ability made him a vital power 
in defending that Union. And a man about whom he 
himself said: 

"No man has a right to judge Andrew Johnson 
in any respect, who has not suffered as much 
and done as much as he for the nation's sake."*** 

Therefore, when the time came to set up the national 
Republican ticket for 1864, President Lincoln chose Andrew 
Johnson to run with him as vice-president. But, Johnson 
was a Democrat; Lincoln a Republican. What is more 
Johnson absolutely refused to be nominated as a Re- 
publican. Finally, to give Lincoln the man he demanded, 
the name of the nominating convention was made Union 
in pkce of Republican. 



IF Andrew Johnson had remained vice-president probably 
that party difference would not have seriously interfered 
with the work both he and Lincoln wanted most to do. 
But when Lincoln was shot that night of April 14, to die 
the next morning, and Johnson found himself, suddenly, 

181 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

facing the land as president, he also found himself feeing 
a group of Republican leaders who seemed to forget that 
Johnson was a Democrat, had always been one, and would 
remain one in the face of their claim of having elected him. 

In addition to those party leaders many of whom 
wanted the South punished and punished severely there 
were the people of the North expecting the new president 
from the poor South to be unmerciful to the rich Southern 
plantation owners. But Andrew Johnson had no such 
intention, then or ever. Instead, he, like Lincoln, wanted 
above everything else to restore the Union to peace and 
prosperity. To do that, the terrible hurt to the pride of the 
South must be handled with wise understanding. Victory 
, and defeat alike must be forgotten if the country was to 
recognize equally the rights of its people. 

President Johnson, therefore, began at once to try to 
heal the breach between North and South. He became 
president in April. In May he issued a general pardon to 
all members of the Confederacy except the most radical 
leaders provided those members would take an oath of 
allegiance to the United States. Over the states already 
working to restore themselves to the Union, he appointed 
provisional governors and instructed them to arrange for 
state conventions elected from such people as had sworn 
to be loyal citizens and were otherwise entitled to vote. 

All of this was according to Lincoln's Southern policy. 
All of this was done by Johnson before Congress assembled 
the following December. Immediately upon that assembling, 
trouble began. Congress refused to admit senators and 
congressmen from the Southern states even though those 
states wanted and were struggling to regain their place 
with the government. Certain radical Republican leaders 
demanded that the freed slaves be given the right to vote; 

182 



STARTING ALL OVER 

and at the same time demanded that enough white 
In the South be disfranchised and thus give the 
the lead over the Democrats in that section. 

In all of those movements, Johnson saw to the 

Federal government. So the split between Congress and 
President widened. To gain further support. President 
Johnson, himself, took an active part in the summer and 
fall campaign of 1866. And right there was where Andrew 
Johnson's power began seriously to crumble. For it was 
then that, for some reason, his old bitter defensive attitude 
toward all opposition came to the surface. To hide his 
unexplainable feeling of inferiority, he struck blindly out 
and often in an ineffective, undignified manner. Of course, 
he did more harm than good. How much harm nobody can 
be sure, but, at any rate, when the new Congress assembled 
it had even a larger Republican majority than the year 
before. 

With that control established, Congress now proceeded 
to push aside, to disregard entirely all of President John" 
son's plans and policies. In the face of his bitter opposition, 
the members continued their plans of restoring military 
control in the South, enfranchisement of the negroes, and 
disfranchisement of southern whites. Desperate in his 
desire to keep his inaugural oath, President Johnson 
determined to bring matters to some sort of an issue that 
would bring him justification and, so, renewed power. 

To do this, he deliberately dismissed Edwin M. Stanton, 
his troublesome secretary of war, right in the face of the 
Tenure of Office Act which had just been passed by 
Congress and which had taken all power from the president 
to dismiss any man from office who had been placed in that 
office by the consent or approval of that body. Johnson 
hoped his act would go to the Supreme Court and there be 

183 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

approved. Instead, he was impeached for "high crimes and 
misdemeanors," and subjected to a trial in Congress which 
lasted from March to May, 1868. Although the evidence 
was very meager against him, Congress was so politically 
opposed to him, that, in the end, Andrew Johnson escaped 
conviction by only one vote. Sixty years later, in October, 
1926, the Supreme Court of the United States, justified 
him by declaring the Tenure of Office Act, invalid because 
it was "an attempt to interfere with the constitutional 
right of the President/' 

If he could but have known that even the distant future 
held that justification, perhaps Andrew Johnson might 
have gone home the next year less bitter in heart. But even 
though he was bitter he was not broken, for in 1875, he was 
reelected to the United States Senate by his old Tennessee 
friends. Just why he wanted to go back is hard to say, 
unless it was to make one speech, ringing with his old fire 
and brilliancy, which denounced his former opponents 
while at the same time it made apologies for his own mistakes. 

After that he went home to Greeneville; only to die in 
July of the following summer. As the news of his death 
flashed over the country, telegrams came from all sorts of 
people everywhere. He would have liked that recognition. 
But what he would have loved above everything else was 
the never-ending stream of plain people coming from the 
hills and the valleys to say their good-by's to him as he 
ky asleep wrapped in his flag with the thirty-seven stars 
not one gone and his head resting on the Constitution 
of the United States. 

Those old friends buried him high on a hill where he had 
so often delighted to stand looking out over the beauty of 
east Tennessee. To-day, the United States government owns 
that hill and has turned it into a national cemetery. Tennes- 

184 



STARTING ALL OVER 

see has built a wide, free road to swing off through Greene- 
ville, past the old tailor shop, raining wind-swept and 
sun-drenched for five hundred miles of smooth 
for tired feet. That road, a road for the countryside people, 
is called the Andrew Johnson Highway. The Old Com- 
moner would have liked nothing better than to walk that 
road. 



185 



II. ULYSSES S. GRANT 



As if worn out with the never-ending quarrels of the 
political leaders at Washington, the people of the United 
States now turned their backs on all those trained and 
experienced in statecraft to elect Ulysses S. Grant president. 
Perhaps they argued that if he had military genius enough 
to defend the Union as valiantly as he had, he must also 
have sufficient wisdom to preside wisely over it. At least 
there was no doubt they meant to do him high honor, for 
they heaped their electoral votes high until he counted 
two hundred and fourteen out of two hundred and ninety- 
four. But General Grant was the victorious general of the 
North. How did the South feel to see him take the reins 
of national government? How did he, himself, feel towards 
the conquered South? Was he a man of a wise and under- 
standing heart as well as one of high courage and ruthless 
military power? From what sort of people, from what part 
of the country, had he come? 

To begin with he was an American for eight generations 
back that Scottish kind of American whose people had 
landed up in Massachusetts in 1630 and then shoved 
gradually on through to the Middle West. Jesse Grant, the 
President's father, was a tanner & good one and a 
thrifty manager, but a somewhat vain, boasting, argumenta- 
tive man, who took tremendous pride in Ulysses, the oldest 
of his six children. Hannah Simpson, Jesse Grant's wife and 
mother of those six, was a very strong woman who treated 
her children with a certain gracious courtesy combined 
with good common sense, 

Those two began housekeeping in a small frame cottage 
at Point Pleasant, Ohio, where Ulysses was born April 27, 

186 



STARTING ALL OVER 

1822. later, the family moved to Georgetown, m 
Ohio. There Jesse Grant attracted considerable 
by building a twostory brick house, a most unusual 
of magnificence in that western knd in days. But 

magnificence doesn't seem to have the life of the 

eldest son any different from that of the neighbor toys. 
He chopped and hauled wood. He worked hard at whatever 
there was to be done. He also played hard' swam* skated 9 
raced and rede a horse as if he were grown to its back. 

This out-of-door pioneer life, no doubt, had much to do 
in building up the strength to endure the exposure and 
hardships he had to endure as a soldier later in life. It also 
helped to teach him part of that resourcefulness which 
made him so swift and daring in his military campaigns. 
In between this work and play, the boy went to the village 
school during the winter months. Then he had one winter 
at Maysville Academy and another at Ripley, where he 
took part in debates but where he absolutely refused to 
make any speeches alone. 

Although these advantages were more than many 
pioneer boys could claim, they did not satisfy Jesse Grants 
ambition for Ulysses. Therefore, he set about getting his 
son a cadetship at West Point; and succeeded, much to 
the excited surprise of the neighbors who couldn't under- 
stand why a tanner's son should be so honored; also, much 
to the amusement of that seventeen-year-old son's fellow 
cadets at the military academy. So far as his studies were 
concerned, it can't be said that Ulysses Grant did much to 
offset that surprise and ridicule; for he really just managed 
to stand twenty^first in a ckss of thirty nine. 

But when it came to riding a horse he far outrode every 
cadet of his time. At last to challenge his horsemanship, a 
young soldier held one aid of a pole high over his head 

189 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

while resting the other against a wall and Grant was asked 
to take it at a jump on horseback. Racing swiftly and easily 
down the stretch to the pole, horse and boy rose in the air, 
flew over the barrier, and were off on the other side without 
so much as a stumble or the loss of a second. For many a 
day that jump was one of the proudest on record at West 
Point. 



GRADUATING from the United States Military Academy at 
twenty-one] Ulysses Grant was assigned to duty at Jefferson 
Barracks, Missouri, with the commission of brevet'second 
lieutenant. The next year he was sent with his regiment 
the fourth infantry down to Louisiana. And the third year 
found him, at twenty three, over in Mexico with Zachary 
Taylor moving towards the Rio Grande. That is where he 
saw his first real fighting, also where he had his first taste 
of victory when the Americans won the battles of Palo 
Alto and Resaca de la Palma. 

When General Taylor's force was divided, Grant was 
sent with the troops who served under General Winfield 
Scott. Under that command, he again swept along from one 
victorious battle to another, to be made a captain for 
gallantry and finally to see the flag of his country fly high 
over all that great southwestern land. How would he have 
felt over the triumphant close of that war if he could have 
looked on down through the next fifteen years to see trouble 
rising out of the question of slavery in the territory he had 
helped to win? How would he have felt if he could have seen 
the responsibility he, himself, would have twenty years 
hence? What difference might it have made in his own life 
could he have foreseen that responsibility? 

190 



STARTING ALL OVER 

But, of course, Ulysses Grant had no way to 
all of that. So, when he returned to the United States* and 
to the rather dull routine of army post life, he to 

drink and continued to do so until he finally his 

commission in 1854. He was then thirty-^two and in the 
very prime of his life. Back of him ky years of military 
training and brilliant service. But he left all that to 
farming and dealing in real estate near St. Louis, Missouri. 
Six years kter he moved up to Galena, Illinois, where Jesse 
Grant had taken his family years before. There Ulysses 
Grant clerked in his father's store, earning only about 
eight hundred dollars a year a discouraged and, ap- 
parently, broken man. 



THEN came that April of 1861 with Abraham Ijncoln's 
call for troops. Civil war was on. Immediately Ulysses 
Grant offered his services to help defend the government of 
the United States. And was accepted. In June he was 
appointed colonel of the twenty-first regiment of Illinois 
infantry and was sent into Missouri. By August he had 
been promoted to the rank of brigadier general of volunteers 
and assigned to command a territory on the Mississippi* 
There he showed such ability that General Halleck gave 
him the task of clearing the lower Cumberland and Tennes- 
see rivers. 

After that came a year and a half of victories, defeats, of 
disagreement with General Halleck, of days at Vicksburg 
when Grant was relieved of all important service, and was 
thought by everybody to be in disgrace. He might if he Had 
done as others did have retired. Instead, he went right on 
in his own rather glum fashion, never flinching in his determi' 

191 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

nation to win, never reducing for one second his astounding 
energy. 

And Abraham Lincoln, looking out from far-off" Washing- 
ton, worn by the burden of his responsibility and distracted 
by petty jealous bickerings among army officers pinned 
his faith to Ulysses Grant. Then Halleck was called to 
Washington as generaHn-chief, other officers were sent to 
other commands, and Grant found himself left to take 
Vicksburg alone. He took it took it after all sorts of inter- 
ference from others; took it with his old-time vigor and 
daring; and in the taking swept up, on July 4, 1863, 
prisoners numbering 29,491 in one of the most important 
victories of the whole war. For that he was made major 
general of the regukr army with four armies under his 
command. With three of those armies he began the battle 
of Chattanooga, to win it three days later, and thus to 
destroy the last Confederate hold in the center and west. 
At the same time he won for himself supreme command 
of the entire Union army of over one million men. 

That is when he marched on over to Virginia to take 
direct command himself of the eastern army of the North 
against General Lee. At the same time he kept close super- 
vision of the campaigns going on to the south and center. 
For months, both the North and the South looked on 
while battle after battle was fought with a terrible loss of 
life in Virginia. As if he were made of iron body, 
mind, and soul General Grant pressed General Lee steadily 
south until the few gallant Confederate troops, ragged, 
starved, dead with fatigue, were driven back to Richmond 
in hopeless surrender. 

And the man who had had the relentless will, the 
strength of purpose, the unflinching courage to bring this 
defeat to the enemy, was so sensitive to human suffering 

192 



STARTING ALL OVER 

that, at Shiloh, lie lay outdoors in an icy rain lie 

could not bear to see the surgeons working 

shelter, on his wounded men. He was also the 

who, having once given his word to General Lee 

the terms of surrender, threatened to resign if 

wore not kept by the President of the United States. 



AFTER the close of the war General Grant went to 
Washington. There he became involved in the quarrel 
between Congress and Andrew Johnson over the Tenure 
of Office Act. In fact, he was the man whom President 
Johnson asked to take Edwin Stanton's place as secretary 
of war, when he Johnson threw down the challenge 
to Congress by removing Stanton from that position. Still 
later, when Congress refused in answer to Johnson's 
defiance to confirm Grant's appointment, Grant retired 
from the struggle. Johnson had not counted on his new 
secretary^ doing that and a bitter quarrel resulted between 
the two men. 

Up until this time, Grant, like Zachary Taylor always 
a soldier, never a politician had cast just one vote in Ms 
whole life and that had been for President Buchanan. 
Now, however, the struggle between political leaders evi" 
dently appealed to him. His election to the presidency, 
therefore, must have brought him the gratification victory 
usually brings such a man; and doubly so, no doubt, when 
he found he was so universally the choice of his people. 

What with the prostrate condition of the South im* 
mediately following the war and what with the general 
opposition of Congress to President Johnsons attempts 
to follow out Lincoln's generous policies toward the 
rebellious South, reconstruction had really not even got 

193 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

under way before President Grant came into office. He 
therefore had a heavy burden to assume if he meant to 
continue his own understanding attitude toward the people 
he had so largely helped conquer. 

But Ulysses Grant could be as gentle in handling such a 
people as he once had been ruthless, in battle, against them. 
In addition, he was thoroughly liked by his associates at 
Washington and so did not have Johnson's unpopularity 
to struggle against. So, gradually, in his administration, 
the breach between North and South began to grow a 
little less wide. 

To be sure, when on March 30, 1870, the Fifteenth 
Amendment was passed, giving the right to vote to any 
citizen of the United States regardless "of race, color, 
or previous conditions of servitude," the South found 
itself under the domination of the ktely freed slaves and 
the foreign whites neither of whom had had sufficient 
experience to make that power safe in their hands/ If 
ignorance in ruling had been all from which the helpless 
South had had to suffer, it would have been quite enough. 
But unprincipled men took advantage of the situation and 
the desperate people were subject to all sorts of graft. 
Naturally those conditions plus the humiliation of the old 
slave owners over being ruled by those they considered 
their inferiors did not help reconstruction to get far 
under way. Two years later, therefore, urged by the 
President, Congress repealed some of the severe penalties 
placed on former slave owners, and modified others. 

The most important foreign afeir of Grant's first four 
years was the negotiation of the Treaty of Washington. 
Several controversies long hanging fire between Great 
Britain and America were settled by this. Among those was 
the agreement to arbitrate the question of damage in' 

194 



STARTING ALL OVER 

flicted on the United States by 

out by England. The decision of the Court of 

later gave the United States $15,500,0(XX 

But while helping the South to relieve 
from swindling in high public office, and while 
that the nation was repaid for the loss Great Britain 
brought upon it from undue interference. President Grant 
was unable to handle the dishonest practices then growing 
up within his own circle at Washington. To be sure, 
an act was passed in 1871 providing for a Civil Service 
Commission together with funds to enforce it. But such 
a reform was by no means popular, so that when those 
funds were exhausted the work of that Commission grew 
less and less. And even at the best Civil Service could not 
have checked the sort of corruption existing then among 
public officials. But Grant seemed utterly unaware that 
such corruption existed. For, despite his marvelous power 
to conduct wide and complicated military campaigns with 
the most delicate strategy, he had never used strategy to 
gain his own political ends and had never seemed to con* 
sider that others might use it. How, then, could he be ex- 
pected to recognize corrupt dealings in positions of trust? 
Honest, simple, and unable to think of his associates as 
unprincipled, he was unbelievably blind to corruption going 
on all about him. 

It was difficult for the country to tibink he could be so 
blind. Opposition, therefore, grew up to his reelection. 
However, he won that reelection even if his majority was 
not so high as four years before. But the political dishonesty 
smirching his first administration grew even worse ici his 
second. The building of the transcontinental railways 
and development of many branches of industry led to 
great speculation in money circles; Mures began in 1873; 

195 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

a panic followed; and business depression began which 
was to last for several years. A bill providing for the resump- 
tion of specie payments which might have done much to 
steady the money affairs of the nation, was passed through 
the President's earnest recommendation, but was not en' 
forced until years later. Altogether, President Grant's second 
administration was not a happy experience. 

At the close of it, he and his wife and son took a journey 
around the world and were received with high honors 
everywhere. On his return he went back to Galena, Illinois, 
to live and to be persuaded to run a third time for the 
presidency. But he was defeated for nomination by the 
public prejudice against a third term. 

After that, he gave up politics and moved to New York 
where he bought a home and invested all of his money 
in a banking firm. With his usual faith in the honesty of 
his associates, he paid no attention to the way the firm 
handled its business. Unfortunately, it evidently did not 
handle it well, for it failed in 1884. 
/And Ulysses Grant, then sixty-two, found himself not 
only penniless, but beginning, at the same time, to suffer 
intensely from the cancer which afterwards caused his 
death. Fortunately, about that time, the Century Magazine 
asked him to write an article. The public liked so well 
what he wrote, that he was encouraged to try writing 
his memoirs. Although he needed to do this to earn enough 
money to live, he wrote it so simply, so modestly, as well 
as with so much real charm, that he gave the world one of 
the best soldier's biographies now in existence. What is 
more, to the great joy of his friends, everywhere, the 
book had a record sale of about a million dollars. 

The splendid fight that he made straight through those 
last months of terrible suffering only added to his fame 

196 



STARTING ALL OVEE 

as one of the world's bravest men. In the of 

Congress made him happy by passing a bill him 

general on the retired list. That summer he to a 

cottage at McGregor, New York. There he the last 

five weeks of his life. Those weeks were a race with 
to finish his memoirs. Grant won; for he wrote the 
word four days before the end came. 

No world citizen ever had greater honor given him at 
his death than he. No American citizen ever 
real grief expressed over his going. No great general ever 
had greater trappings of glory than he in his last proces- 
sion through the streets of New York. But above all of 
those, the kindly simple man, Ulysses S. Grant, would 
have prized the legend 

Let Us Have Peace 

inscribed over the entrance to his great tomb cm Riverside 
Drive, New York City. 



197 



III. RUTHERFORD B. HAYES 



WHO and what next? After Andrew Johnson, the 
politician of great power and broad experience; after 
Ulysses S. Grant, the soldier of magnificent leadership; 
after both of those struggling to right the Ship of State 
from the storm of Civil War and neither one getting so 
vary far where should the people of the United States 
look for a president who might be trusted to do even as 
much for reconstruction as either Grant or Johnson? 

Well there was Rutherford Birchard Hayes serving 
his third term as governor out in Ohio. That fact in itself 
spoke well for his executive ability. In addition he had a 
record for war service that was as remarkable for modesty 
as it was for fearlessness and never-failing surety in com- 
mand. On top of all that he was a man of dignified courtesy 
and, so far as anyone could measure, a man of safe judg- 
ment. Evidently the Republican party considered him 
not only a good executive, a good soldier, and a man to 
command respect but also a keen enough politician to 
win them a victory. So they chose him to lead their cam- 
paign in 1876. 

To be sure Rutherford Birchard Hayes had much on 
his side to make him able to lead and to win when he led. 
In his veins ran just the sort of blood to give him that 
power. In fact, the Hayes branch of his family had not 
only been leaders, but fighters as far back as the tenth 
century when the Hayes men are first heard of as valiant 
defenders of the Scotch crown. The Birchard branch 
his mother's people were of equally staunch English 
blood. Both families were among those good, stout patriots 
who landed in Massachusetts back in the sixteen hundreds. 

198 



STARTING ALL OVER 

Out of those two families, the 
the seventeenth president of the United Slates, 
ckim that both of his grandfathers, and out of 

of his great grandfathers, had fought in the Revolution. 
The fourth great grandfather was kept busy by Ctonnecti' 
cut collecting funds to pay for the upkeep of the 

When anyone, in 1876, added to that inheritance of 
courageous loyalty the inheritance which belongs to a 
family who for generation after generation kept the motto 
Recte on their old Scotch coat of arms, that one had every 
right to expect that such a man elected president, even in 
the unsettled years of the late 1870X was quite likely to 
prove strong and faithful. 



SOME years before Rutherford Hayes was bom, his 
own father also called Rutherford had moved from 
Vermont out to Delaware, Ohio, and there married 'Sophia 
Birchard. The two bought land and prospered, so that 
when the father died, three months before the son Ruther^ 
ford was born in October, 1822, he left his family free 
from pressing money troubles. To add to their 
freedom from worry, Sardis Birchard, Rutherford's 
uncle, took charge of them all and became like a father to 
the two Hayes children, Fanny and Rutherford. 

Those children were inseparable all through their early 
years. And the years were very happy ones. The two" 
story brick house, which they called home, was very 
comfortable. The garden and lawn about it were quite 
spacious enough for any sort of game. Besides there 
was the farm lying along the winding stream which long 
years before had been named the Olentangy by Indians 
who loved it. The Hayes children made long visits out 

201 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

there when sugars-making was on in the maple grove, 
when cherries were ripe, when the apples were ready for 
grinding to cider, and the nuts for gathering in the thick 
woods. 

Then there was the village school where they went, for 
a short time, to be frightened out of their wits by the 
master, a small man, a thin, wiry Yankee, who took great 
pride in threshing the big boys into obedience, and in 
scaring others into studying by throwing an open jack- 
knife so that it barely missed the head of the laz;y one to 
land quivering in the wall just beyond. Fortunately for 
their nerves, Fanny and Rutherford Hayes were taken 
from that school to be sent to private ones. Rutherford 
went to an academy at Norwalk, then to a boarding school 
at Middletown, Connecticut, and finally entered Kenyon 
College, at Gambier, Ohio, when he was sixteen. 

At college the boy continued the same normal, happy 
life he had always led. He worked hard and stood well in 
his classes; but he was never prosy, never dull. On the 
other hand, he was one to whom life was joyous especial' 
ly out-of-doors and, therefore, he was popular. He chose 
his friends carefully then kept them always. And even 
at nineteen he had his own ideals of good sportsmanship; 
for he wrote in his diary: 

"Let me triumph as a man or not at all."*' 

After graduating from Kenyon, he studied for ten 
months in a law firm in Columbus, Ohio, before going to 
Harvard to complete his professional training. It was at 
Harvard, in 1843, that he heard John Quincy Adams, 

* All quotations taken from the writings of President Hayes are used by permission 
of the Hayes Memorial, Fremont, Ohio. 

202 



STARTING ALL OVER 

then far along in Ms seventies, Ms 

of the wMte-haired statesman as follows: 

"I hard J. Q. Adams address the Whigs of 
Norfolk County, yesterday. His speech contained 
little politics but much abolitionism.^ 

Later in Ms life, Rutherford Hayes was going to conclude 
that to be a successful abolitionist one would have to be 
a hard'headed politician also. Even in the venerable Adams,, 
he recognised something of this power for he went on to 
write: 

"He is quick, fearless, and full of the wit 
and learning of all ages/' 

Adams was not the only great man of Ms time whom the 
OMo law student heard at Cambridge. In fact, for a young, 
vitally live, quick-witted Westerner the life of this Eastern 
college was crowded full of fascinating people and unusual 
happenings. There were Longfellow and Sparks lecturing 
at Harvard. There were the political meetings with Webster 
thundering forth Ms wonderful speeches in support of 
Henry Clay . It was wMle hearing those speeches of Eastern 
leaders that Rutherford Hayes began, then and there, to 
take an absorbing interest in the political life of his country. 



EVEN with all of those distractions, the young man 
managed to complete Ms study of la w satisfactorily. That done 
he returned home and set up Ms own practice in Fremont, 
OMo. But there were to be interruptions in die growth of 
that practice. First, there was the war with Mexico wMch 
greatly upset him. He tried to enlist, but his health broke, 
and instead of .going to Texas to fight, he went for Ms 

. 203 



THE BOOK. OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

health. And found it by living a delightfully free life, 
driving, dancing, and riding day after day through northern 
and western Texas. 

Strong and vigorous once more, he returned North, 
moved to Cincinnati to begin his practice, and in 1858 
was elected city solicitor. He remained in that position 
until he enlisted in the Civil War in 1861. That meant he 
was living near the border line between North and South 
during the tense days when that line was being drawn ready 
to snap. It meant he was there also when Lincoln traveled 
from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington to take his oath 
of office in the spring of 1861. That is why we have the 
following picture in Hayes 1 own writing: 

"He {[Lincoln]} rode in a open carriage, standing 
erect with head uncovered, and bowing his 
acknowledgments/ 1 * 

as well as this conclusion: 

"He |Lincoln| believes in a policy of kindness of 
delay to give time for passions to cool, but not 
in a compromise to extend the power and deadly 
influence of the slave question. This gives me 
great satisfaction." 

But, as we know now, there wasn't to be any "delay." 
Fort Sumter fell the next month. Lincoln sent forth his 
first call for troops and four days after that call Rutherford 
Hayes was out drilling with a company of volunteers. On 
May 15, he wrote in his diary: 

"I would prefer to go into it fthe war} if 
I knew I was to die or be killed in the course 
of it, than to live through and after it without 
taking any part in it." 

204 



STARTING AIL OVER 

In July he was on his way to western Virginia, as 
of the twenty-third regiment of Ohio That 

began a service which never ceased in activity the 

close of the war. Something of what he to in 
camp life is shown in a letter to his niece written in the 
December following his enlistment: 

"Since 1 came to Virginia in July, I have not 
shaved; for weeks at a time I have slept in all 
clothes except boots occasionally in boots 
and sometimes in spurs; a half a dos^n times on 
the ground without shelter; once on the snow. 

But as if glorying in his own endurance he goes on to say 
that he had kept well until 

"since I have taken winter quarters in a com** 
fortable house. Now I have a slight cold.""* 

And so he continued his service, enjoying even the 
hardships and taking keen delight in commanding whore 
the danger was greatest. After one of his most serious 
battles he wrote home: 

"This is the most successful and by all odds the 
pleasantest campaign I have ever had. I hardly 
know what I would change in it, except to 
restore life and limb to the killed and wounded.* 1 * 

Even when a serious wound at Smith Mountain left him 
lying out on the battlefield at the mercy of open firing, he 
found some joy, for he said later: 

"While I was lying down, I had considerable 
talk with a wounded Confederate soldier lying 
near me. I gave him messages for my wife and 

205 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

friend in case I should not get up. We were 
right jolly and friendly. It was by no means an 

unpleasant experience. 



IT was while he was still at the front, while the fighting 
in Virginia was still hottest in 1864, that his Republican 
friends tack in Cincinnati nominated him for Congress. 
When the news reached Hayes, he wrote back: 

"An officer fit for duty 9 who at this crisis would 
abandon his post to electioneer for Congress, 
ought to be scalped. You may feel perfectly sure 
I shall do no such thing." 

But he did not need any electioneering. His nomination 
came in August. He was elected by an overwhelming 
majority in October. But he did not take his seat until 
after the war had ended. In fact he was not free to return 
to Cincinnati until a year from that October. It was the 
following December that he went to Washington to assume 
his new duties in Congress. There, while generally support- 
ing his party^s reconstruction policy, he gave his particular 
attention to his work as diairman of the library committee 
and to the introduction and carrying of resolutions to 
provide pensions and bounties for soldiers. 

Two years of this sort of quiet but efficiently faithful 
work brought him reelection in 1866 by a majority which 
loomed up surprisingly high on a ticket generally showing 
a loss. Refrirmng to his old seat he kept right on interesting 
himself in behalf of his old soldier friends, and working 
early and kte for the success of the Thirteenth and Four- 
teenth amendments. That work continued until he was 
called back to be governor of his own state. And to remain 

206 



STARTING ALL OVER 

governor until 1876 5 when he the 

nominee for president against Samuel J. Tilden, 

Now TUdea was very popular of Ms 

against all sorts of dishonest handling of public 
More than that, his reform policies were bringing 
to the Democratic party. On the other hand, the 
arising in Grant's administration had tended to 
the hold which the Republican party had on the nation. 
As a result, the election of 1876 was very close; so 
in fact, that the decision had to be turned over to Congress, 
Congress, on its side, appointed a commission. Finally,, 
the contest ended with eight votes foe Hayes; seven for 
Tilden. 

After all of his previous majorities this last election must 
have seemed anything but reassuring to Rutherford Hayes,, 
especially when he needed the full confidence of his people 
to do the work just waiting to be done. First, there was the 
South still staggering under its defeat; second, there was 
the whole country struggling against financial depression 
begun by the panic in the Grant administration; third, there 
was universal graft in high places. President Hayes' adminis- 
tration went far in straightening out all three of these 
tangles. To begin with, in the face of strong opposition 
from his own Republican party, he succeeded in getting the 
federal troops withdrawn from the capitals of Southern 
states. This, alone, cleaned up much abuse of political power 
in the South and was generally helpful in the restoring of 
that section to its old-time belief in itself. Then, to bring 
back the country's confidence in financial matters, he pro- 
vided that the money market be steadied by resuming specie 
payments. Finally, he tried, also against his party's wishes* 
to clean up graft by using his influence toward the establish- 
ment of a Civil Service Commission. 

207 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

By the end of these four years, President Hayes had the 
satisfaction of knowing that he had gone far in the tasks he 
had set himself. Perhaps he could not then see how far, but 
Ms countrymen know now that his fearless, sound adminis' 
tration finally set the face of the nation toward a longed-for 
peace and prosperity. As for a second term, he himself had 
said in his first campaign that he would not run again. 
Whether he would have been renominated is a question 
since he had so offended his party leaders by his fearless 
policies. 

For months before the end of his admMstration, he looked 
eagerly forward to returning tfc to the freedom, independ- 
ence, and safety of our home in the pleasant grove at 
Fremont." He lived on for a round dossen years in that 
"pleasant grove," 1 spending his days in actively working to 
help his soldier friends; in arousing his state to the necessity 
for better conditions in prisons; and in making free schools 
more available everywhere. 

kt l thought fhe once said in those yearsj that when 
I laid down my official cares, I should have a 
tolerably easy life, but I have been kept about 
as busy for the last ten years working for other 
people as I ever was in my life. And I don't 
deny that I enjoy it." 

One is glad to know that he kept right on "enjoying 
it" until within just a few days before his death in January, 
1893. And to know, also, that he was equally glad to go, 
just as he did, full of years, full of content, ready for rest. 



208 



IX 

GOING STEADILY 



I. JAMES A. GARFIELD AND A. 



OUT through the thick branches, sixteen^yearold James 
Garfield could just catch a glimpse of Lake Erie 
glistening under the sun. Once in a great while a white 
sail skimmed close along the far rim of the sky. What ky 
beyond that blue water? What port was waiting that 
beat? The boy's eyes had snapped with excitement as the 
sail came in sight. They grew heavy as it slipped away in 
the base. What was the use of thinking of all that? Instead 
of a sail's rope in his hands he had an ax. Instead of a distant 
port to reach he had to finish chopping one hundred cords 
of wood. 

What if every bone in his body did ache? What had that 
to do with getting through with that wood, which he had 
declared he could chop? If he could then he would. So, 
turning his back on the shining lake, he swung his ax high 
to bring it down with a right vigorous ring into the log 
at his feet. Over and over that ax swung and fell, day after 
day, until, at last, the hundred cords were piled high all 
done. James Garfield, then, collected twenty^five dollars 
and took it home to his mother. 

For that was the habit of the Garfield boys both of 
James and his older brother Thomas; and had been ever 
since James could remember. For, when he was only two 
years old, a forest fire had broken out dangerously near the 

209 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

clearing in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where the Garfield 
cabin stood. Abram Garfield, the father of James, a frontiers- 
man, bom of staunch New England Puritan stock, knew 
the threat held in that choking smoke drifting in through 
the tangle of trees and brush. There was no time to lose. 
Striking off down the trail, he met neighbor men who 
fought with him, fought desperately hour after hour, until 
the fire was beaten. After that, the man had staggered 
tack down the trail, exhausted, had dropped on a stool 
to rest right where a stiff wind blew across his warm 
body, had taken a severe cold, and had died a few days 
later. 

That left Abram GarfiekTs wife, a small, rather frail 
woman, alone, with her children. The farm was loaded with 
debt. Neighbors were scattered and as poor as she. But she 
was a pioneer woman, descended from an iron-willed 
French Huguenot group of New Englanders. What Abram 
Garfield had started to do, she would, of course, continue. 
Season after season the fields that had been cleared were 
planted and harvested. Year after year the young orchards 
were coaxed along, until, by the time James was a small 
boy, cherries were ready for picking, apples were ripening 
for cider, and the farm was yielding enough to given Elisa 
Garfield a chance to take an easier breath. 

But there was still far from plenty on the Garfield farm. 
James, at twelve, was hoeing hour on hour out in the fields, 
was tending fires in between planting corn and potatoes, 
and was beginning to wonder whether he was really meant 
to be a former. He finally decided that whether he was or 
not, he would rather be a carpenter. About that time the 
family concluded that they could afford a new house & 
new house with all of four rooms. That gave James his 
chance to learn carpentry with the men doing the building. 

210 



GOING STEADILY 

By the the was he had not 

a fair carpenter, but had 
and was the proud of a At 

he was earning a little money by his and as 

fast as he earned it, was proudly it the 

treasury. 

As for book learning, there were the few 
in the district school every winter. There were the 
when rain and snow made it impossible to go to 
or to work on the farm, but which his mother 
to help the boys with their studies. There were the 
long evenings before the fireplace when James lost himself 
in reading the few books lined up neatly on a shelf in the 
cabin, particularly the one called The Pirate's Own BooJ[ or 
some such name. That volume he read over and ova: again. 
In his own mind he ate with those pirates, slept with them, 
faced every narrow bloodcurdling escape that they faced, 
and buried countless treasures in the dead of the night in 
their brave company. 

With all those tales very real and live to him, he strode 
out across country from his own little pioneer home town 
of Orange to his uncle's farm lying close to Lake Erie. 
There he chopped that hundred cords of wood, dreamed 
dreams of sailing his own ship some day, and then returned 
home to tell his mother that he simply could not stand 
life on the farm any longer. But he did stand it long enough 
to help and store the hay, before he tied up his few belong- 
ings, swung them on a stout stick over his shoulder 3 and 
was off to find his fortune sailing the seas. 

Instead, he found a hot-headed rough old captain on a 
boat at the Cleveland dock who sent him fairly tumbling 
off deck with a volley of oaths that made the blood run 
cold in the boy's veins. While that encounter somewhat 

213 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

cooled Ms enthusiasm for living the life of a sailor, he still 
longed for a beat of some kind. Finally he decided a canal 
boat was better than nothing, so he took a job on one which 
hauled coal from the mines up the canal to Cleveland. 
Even then h^ did not get much experience as a boatman 
since he was kept driving the horse along the canal path. 
In addition, in the few times he was on that boat he fell 
overboard, by actual count, fourteen times. Then he began 
having ague that chill and fever so miserably frequent in 
Ohio pioneer life shaking and chattering with cold one 
minute and burning with fever the next. \. 



THAT was too much even for James Garfield. So he went 
back home, resolved to forget all about the sea, to study, 
and to become a teacher. He stuck to that resolution through 
poverty and hard work, until, a few years later, he found 
himself teaching a country school at twelve dollars a month, 
plus his board. Encouraged by that, he studied at Western 
Reserve Eclectic Institute, now Hiram College, working 
at the same time and saving his money. When he had 
three hundred dollars he concluded he was equipped to 
enter Williams College. He did so, stayed through the four 
years, and graduated in 1856. He was then twenty-five. 
After that he went back to Hiram, this time as a professor 
of ancient languages and literature. Later he was made 
president of that college. 

But his early years of teaching at Hiram were the years 
when every thinking man in the United States had his eyes 
on the Kansas slavery struggle and young Garfield was among 
them. Not only did he have his eyes on the trouble, but he 
decided it was his pkce to say what he thought about it. To 
that aid he entered Ohio politics, soon became known as a 

214 



GOING STEADILY 

very effective speaker, and, as a for Ms 

elected to the Ohio in 

Like all of his fellows in the he of 

course, actively opposed to slavery. But, like of 

them, he believed that the United States lad 

no right to interfere with slavery in any of the 
it already existed. Later, however, when 
came, he, with his associates, urged governments 

right to defend federal power and within 

states. Therefore, when President Lincoln called for 7SGQG 
troops. Senator Garfield introduced a motion that Ohio 
furnish 20,000 of these troops together with 
as her part towards bringing the seceding states to 
obedience. 

On top of that, he, hiniself 9 although just admitted to the 
bar and needing to begin his practice, immediately enlisted. 
He was given a commission as lieutenant colonel, then, a 
little kter, one as colonel of the forty-second Ohio volunteer 
regiment & regiment largely enrolled from his old students. 
At the head of this regiment, he went down into Kentucky, 
then on to the South, was promoted in 1862 to the rank of 
brigadier general of volunteers, fought at the battle of 
Shiloh, became, in 1863, chief of staff under General 
Rosencrantz; in the army of the Cumberland and fought so 
gallantly at Chickamauga that he was made major general 
of volunteers for his gallant action* 



WHILE he had been fighting, however, his Ohio Republican 
friends had decided that he was more needed back of the 
lines than he was at the front. They had, therefore, in 
1862 elected him to the United States Congress, with the 
result that the next year Garfield resigned his post in the 

215 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

war to take Ms seat in the House of Legislature at Wash- 
ington. There he joined the group of Republicans who 
stood for a most severe treatment of the Confederates as 
opposed to President Lincoln's desire to move kindly and 
slowly. 

As time passed Garfield became more and more favorably 
known in the House as a hard worker, a good speaker, and 
a clever leader. Reelected over and again, despite the fact 
that his name was involved in the scandals of President 
Grants administration, he continued to keep his seat until 
1880, when Ohio elected him United States senator. 

That was also the year for presidential election. Still 
further, it was* the year of Generkl.Granfs return from his 
trip around the world during which he had been received 
with the highest honor honor which America felt 
redounded to her glory as well. Therefore, when Grant 
reached home he was received with such overwhelming 
enthusiasm as to cause certain Republican leaders to 
conclude that he could be elected as a third-term 
president. 

Immediately, those leaders called Stalwarts 306 of 
them from New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, arrived 
at the National Republican Convention determined to 
place General Grant at the head of their ticket. Whereupon, 
other leaders one group supporting James G. Blaine, 
another John Sherman set up a strong opposition, not so 
much to General Grant as to any man running for a third 
term. Thirty-five ballots were cast without any one of the 
candidates receiving a sufficient number of votes to nominate 
him. At the end of that time somebody proposed the name 
of James A. Garfield. The two factions agreed, and he was 
nominated with Chester A. Arthur, one of the New York 
leaders, as vice-president. 

216 



GOING STEADILY 



The was a one for 

James Garfield. Accusations in 

corrupt dealings on in 

Grant's were spread far and wide, 

made to swing Western votes away Mm by lie 

was opposed to excluding the Chinese the 

States. Although nobody really of 

things now, they gave the Republican party a 
in 1880. In the end* however, James Gaxfield by 215 
electoral votes, as against 155 for his Democratic 
General Winfield Scott Hancock. 

The outlook, however* was not very bright for the new 
president. The country had been affected more or less by 
the fight against him. Even his own party had never united 
wholly, let alone enthusiastically, for him, because of the 
bitterness still hanging over after the fight at the nomimtiag 
convention. To increase that bitterness, President Garfield 
-appointed James G. Elaine, enemy of the Stalwarts, his 
secretary of state, and made William Robertson* another 
enemy of that Republican group, collector of the port of 
New York. 

Whether he could have pulled the quarreling factions 
together, 'whether his work as president would have won 
him fame in the end, nobody ever will know. But what 
everybody does know is that all party differences 
Democratic and Republican alike were forgotten when, 
four months after his inauguration, President Garfield, 
while in a Washington railway station ready to start for 
the graduation exercises at his old college, was shot by 
Charles Guiteau, a disappointed office seeker. Still further, 
all Americans hold as one of their finest memories, the 
gallant fight James Garfield made through the long weeks of 
suffering that followed, until his death in September, 1881. 

217 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 



CHESTER ALAN ARTHUR 

No president ever took his inaugural oath standing more 
alone than Chester A. Arthur. In the first place, the country 
was too absorbed in its grief over President GarfiekTs 
long weeks of suffering* to give much time to thinking of 
the man who now had to pick up the loose ends of an 
administration just begun and by no means begun smoothly. 
Many of those who did stop to rfiink of him stood far off 
and questioning; some were even downright unfriendly. 
Did the tall, handsome, cultured, very well-groomed man 
feel this aloofness? If so, did he care; and if he cared, what 
could he do to win the trust and support of the American 
people? 

If he did care, then he must have felt the loneliness of 
his position all the more because he had never before 
stood so by himself in all of his fifty-one years. In fact, he 
had always been surrounded by friends hosts of them. 
To be sure he had had everything in his life to help make 
him attractive and to give him that confidence in himself 
which was now helping him to stand in quiet reserved 
digpity before a questioning nation. His father, a graduate 
of Belfast College, Ireland, had brought all of the polish, 
all of the warm personality of an Irish gentleman over to 
America where he quickly made a real place for himself as a 
teacher and preacher. Then he married Malvonia Stone 
and they established a home in Union, Vermont, where 
Chester was born in 1830 just one year before James 
Garfidd opened his eyes for the first time out in the Ohio 
pioneer cabin. 

Certainly the two boys who were later to come together 
as the two leading men of their country, started life very 

218 



GOING STEADILY 

differently. While was Ms 

chopping, planting, sawing and Ms of 

bicod'tMrsty pirates, Chester to 

properly, first to the vilkge to a 

school at Schenectady before to 

graduate with honors at eighteen. That the age 

Garield determined to forget his dreams of the sea get 

down to the business of educating himself. 

All through Ms school life Chester Arthur 
with friends by the score both among Ms and 

his teachers. Active, pleasant^mannered, he cm 

being popular. After leaving college, he, Hke Garfield, 
taught for a while. Then, also Mke Mm, Arthur studied 
kw. He finished that course and was admitted to the bar 
in 1854 when he was twentydfour a year younger than 
Garfield was when he graduated from college. 

And at the time when slavery was occupying everybody's 
mind in the East just as it was in the West. That is probably 
why Chester Arthur's first kw case attracted so much 
attention. That case had to do with the rights of a skve 
owner in a free state to retain the ownersMp of a skve 
traveling with Mm. Arthur argued that the owner would 
lose Ms rights of possession that the negro would become 
free as soon as he stepped on free soil. He won Ms case, 
and the decision was upheld in a Mgher court. Later he 
attracted attention again by arguing that a negro paying 
Ms fare to ride on a New York City street car had the right 
to sit wherever he pleased on that car and to be treated the 
same as a wMte man wMle on it. He won that case also. 

These two cases alone, because of the public interest 
in everytMng connected with skvery, were enough to 
bring Chester Arthur fame as a kwyer. In the meantime, 
Ms shrewd political sense had also proved enough to 

221 



THE BOOK OB AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

establish Mm as one of New York's leading young 
Republicans. Because of tins latter position, as well as 
because of an interest in military affairs, the governor of 
New York made Arthur engmeer^indhief of his staff. When 
the Civil War began calling for 'supplies, he was made 
quartermaster general with the responsibility of seeing that 
New York's 700,000 soldiers were fed, sheltered, and 
clothed. 

He did that work exceedingly well; but he did it as an 
appointee of a Republican governor whom he had helped 
to elect. When that governor went out and a new one 
came in, Arthur lost his pkce to a politician supporting 
the incoming governor. Following that, he went back to 
his law office and stayed there increasing his practice but 
still keeping a hold on political affairs until after the close 
of the Civil War and General Grant's nomination for 
president. In the campaign that followed, Chester Arthur 
worked early and late to elect Grant. What is more he 
worked with the power of a recognised leader. Quite 
naturally, therefore and according to custom President 
Grant rewarded him by giving him the very important 
post of collector of customs in the port of New York. 

Chester Arthur made a very efficient, hard-working 
collector. But he also made himself a very troublesome one, 
later, to President Hayes when that president began a 
sweeping reform in the United States Civil Service. Because 
New York City had its own particular way of ignoring 
that service, and the nation, at large, had grown tired of 
that way, the President appointed a special commission to 
investigate the work of the New York port. As a result of 
that investigation, a complete change of officers was record" 
mended and President Hayes asked for Chester Arthur's 
resignation. 

222 



GOING STEADILY 

But Arthur refused to resign. What Is 
Conkling, powerful Republican United 
defended him so successfully he his 

until the Senate adjourned. During 
ever, the collector was removed not 

his work had ever been unsatisfactory but he 

used the spoils system in filling the offices of his department. 
To be sure the collector before him so Arthur claimed 
had removed seven men to his one. Nevertheless, the 
of the country, in a great fever of reform, did not pay much 
attention to Arthur's claims unless it was to watch 
all the more carefully. 



NONE of this, however, affected Arthur's standing with the 
New York Republican leaders. They, therefore, went 
right on to elect him delegate to the famous Republican 
National Convention of 1880. Of course, he appeared there 
as one of the New York Stalwarts determined to have 
General Grant for a third term. And he must have been in 
high favor with the Grant supporters, for when the Stal- 
warts had to yield to the opposing factions and GariSeld 
was finally nominated for president, those factions* to 
pacify the Eastern political bosses, also nominated Chester 
A. Arthur vice-president. 

Altogether, therefore, as Garfield had also found, the new 
administration did not face a very bright future. The 
President, as a "dark horse," 1 was not even able to count on 
die united support of his own party. The Vice-president 
was in much the same position for he was really only 
acceptable to one faction of his party, while the country 
itself knew him chiefly in connection with die shady New 
York port situation. To complicate matters still farther* 

223 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

Vice-president Arthur worked with Roscoe Conkling as 
directly against President Garfield in the appointment of the 
President's secretary of state and the collector of customs 
of the New York port. That opposition, that affiliation 
with the objectionable New York leaders, brought all the 
old charges against Arthur vividly before the nation once 
more. 

That was the situation when Charles Guiteau fired on 
James Garfield that July day, 1881. And that situation was 
the reason for the American people's standing far off and 
questioning when Chester A. Arthur took his oath of 
office. That was the reason he stood alone; not only alone 
but hurt very deeply hurt by certain unfriendly press 
notices of him and his inauguration. Was all of that why he 
straightened his shoulders, lifted his eyes to the goal of 
real service, and swung off towards that goal with all of 
his splendid ability? 

Perhaps so. At any rate the doubting nation soon found 
occasion to take heart over the evident purpose of the new 
President to give the United States a clear-cut, just, 
administration free from the friction of party factions. He 
appointed men who were fitted to serve splendid men. 
He supported the bill which brought back into force the 
authority given General Grant for use in Civil Service 
reform. He vetoed a bill excluding the Chinese from 
America for thirty years, and also, one calling for an 
$18,000,000 appropriation for river and harbor improve- 
ment. In response to the urgent demand of Congress, he 
recommended the repeal of certain taxes, the reduction of 
postage from three cents to two, the extension of the fast 
mail and free delivery systems and the initiation of special 
delivery service. In foreign affairs, a commercial treaty was 
arranged with Mexico. Another was drawn up, but not 

224 



GOING STEADILY 

ratified,, Nioiagua, a to be 

strutted across that country* 

Also, during this the 

continental railways, so in 

completed. Altogether, after it got the 

Garfield- Arthur presidency the 

advance in national prosperity following the 
years of the Civil War. As a result, the of his 
therefore, found the American 

with, and back of, Chester A. Arthur instead off and 
doubting. 

That increasing popularity caused his name to be pro- 
posed to head the Republican ticket in 1884. But party 
feeling was still bitter against many of the policies he had 
supported. The old split of die previous conventicm had 
not been forgotten. The result was that he ended Ms 
public service when his one term as president aided. 
Following that he went back to his old kw practice in 
New York. He died in November, 1886 less than ten 
years after leaving the White House. 



225 



II. GROVER CLEVELAND 



RIGHT was right, wrong was wrong in the Cleveland 
family. There was never any middle ground where one 
might hesitate, halt, or take off into a shadier path. Not 
for the Clevelands. What was more, everyone of them 
expected every other one to do what was right to do it as 
a matter of course and, therefore, without any praise. 
But with that expectancy went a deep respect and strong 
love that managed to keep the family very generally kind, 
just, and understanding, not only toward one another but 
toward their neighbors as well. 

For the Clevelands were of good old staunch Saxon 
blood, unyielding as an English oak, but also like an oak, 
reliable, reassuring, protecting, Moses was the first of the 
name to leave England and to land in Massachusetts in 
1635. After him came five Aarons before the family turned 
from the Bible to choose more modern names. Certainly an 
inheritance of such blood, such fidelity, and high sense of 
honor promised well for the Union now, in 1885, just 
swinging clear of nearly a half century of bitter con- 
flict just striding out and ahead towards a broad 
development. 

No branch of the Cleveland family could ever have 
claimed a stronger strain of that old Saxon blood than the 
one headed by Richard Falley Cleveland, Grover Cleve- 
land's father. A Yale man, graduating with high honors, 
he upheld the religious faith of his whole family by study- 
ing for the ministry, being ordained, and accepting charge 
of a Congregational church. Perhaps it was just as well to 
have the sternness of that inheritance softened somewhat, 
as it must have been when Richard Cleveland married 

226 



GOING STEADILY 

Ann Neal of Irish and French ancestry. For she came into 
the young minister's home bringing with her a few gay 
colored gowns, some glittering jewelry and a devoted 
colored maid. To be sure, she soon saw she couldn't keep 
any of these at least not if her young husband kept the 
support of his parish. 

So Ann Cleveknd gave them all up but she did it 
cheerfully, which meant much in making the home, then 
and always, one of culture, self-sacrifice, and freedom from 
friction; even if it never was to be free from poverty. 

The fact that that home was never very long in one 
place did not seem to bother the Cleveknds greatly. They 
had already moved from Windham, Connecticut, to Ports- 
mouth, Virginia, and from Portsmouth up to Caldwell, 
New Jersey, before Grover was born in March, 1837- 
When he was four, they packed up their belongings again; 
for Richard Cleveland had been made pastor of Fayette- 
ville, New York. 

At Fayetteville life began in real earnest for small Grover 
Cleveknd. There were his Bible verses to be committed 
to memory and to be followed as far as a small boy 
could follow them. And there, very early, were lessons to 
be studied under his father's direction stiff Latin passages 
and equally stiff problems in arithmetic necessary to help 
him when he entered Fayetteville Academy where the 
older children were already going. Besides all of that 
there were long hours of pky, for Richard and Ann Cleve- 
land meant that their children should not grow up too 
seriously. No doubt it was those hours of pky that made 
Grover Cleveland remember Fayetteville with so much 
real affection throughout all of his life. 

But after nine years in Fayetteville, the heavy parish 
work there, together with the never-ending struggle to 

229 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

feed and clothe a family of eleven on six hundred dollars a 
year, proved too much for Richard Cleveland and his 
health began to break. When, therefore, he was offered a 
new position in Clinton, New York, with a salary of a 
thousand dollars a year, he picked up his household and 
moved on to that town. Aside from the increase in salary, 
the whole Cleveland family were gkd to transfer their 
home to Clinton because Hamilton College was there, 
promising a broader chance for study than Fayetteville. 

Grover had barely started his work in that college, 
with every hope of going straight on until graduation, 
when family needs became so pressing that he had to stop 
and begin to earn money. To do that he went back to 
Fayetteville to clerk in a small store and to be paid all of 
fifty dollars for his first year's service and one hundred for 
the second. To be sure he also was given his board, which in 
those long ago days, meant sleeping in a room without any 
heat on the coldest of winter nights, meant getting up at 
five in the morning to run out across the square to a town 
watering trough to break the ice and then, shivering, to 
scrub his face and neck before racing on to the store to 
build the fire and sweep out. 

The boy kept this work up for two years, all the time 
believing he would go back sometime to finish at Hamilton 
College. He did go back to Clinton at the end of that time, 
but shortly afterwards his father, whose health had con- 
tinued to fail, had to give up his position there and take an 
easier one at Holland Patent not far from Utica. The 
family were barely settled there and Richard Cleveland 
had preached only three Sundays in the village church, 
when he suddenly died. Grover heard the news shouted 
out by a newsboy as he sat in a carriage waiting for his 
sister to finish shopping in Utica. 

230 



GOING STEADILY 

Added to the shock and deep grief over Ms father's 
death a father whom he loved as tenderly as he respected 
and obeyed him Graver Cleveknd faced the keen dis- 
appointment of giving up all further work at Hamilton 
College. He was then sixteen. He was without a cent of 
his own in the world as he had added every dollar he earned 
to the family income. Since that family meant much to him, 
he tried to find work near home. He thought* perhaps, he 
could teach the blind so he joined his brother at the New 
York City Institution for the Blind. But he was not long 
deciding that he had made a mistake. At last, discouraged on 
all sides, he borrowed twenty^five dollars and started west. 

Because Cleveknd, Ohio, had been named in honor of a 
relative of his, he made that city his goal. On the way, 
however, he stopped to visit an uncle near Buffalo. That 
uncle was a breeder of fine cattle. He offered the boy work 
on a herd book. The boy accepted, earned sixty dollars 
clear, and decided to stay on in Buffalo. Long years 
before, he had made up his mind to study kw. His uncle 
now found a way for him to do that by securing him a 
position as clerk, with time to study, in the kw office of a 
friend. And there Grover Cleveknd stayed, stubbornly 
poring over great volumes of kw, stubbornly conquering 
one volume after another, until, four years kter, he 
triumphed by being admitted to the bar. 

That was in 1859. Two years kter Fort Sumter fell and 
young men the country over found their' life plans really 
meant nothing compared to the life of the Union. When, 
finally, the call for enlistment came, the three Cleveknd 
brothers looked at each other and then at their mother 
still sacrificing herself, still cheerful, still without money. 
Somebody had to take care of her. The boys drew lots. 
Grover drew the one that kept him at home. 

231 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 



So during all of those tragic war days, Grover Cleveland 
was in Buffalo working away to establish his law practice. 
At the same time he was allying himself with the Democratic 
party of Erie County as against his uncle and most of his 
friends who were supporting the new Republican ticket. 
But while working for the advance of his party, he seems 
to have had no thought of doing so to further his own 
interests. Certainly he made no effort to secure office, then, 
or ever. Instead, office came to him. 

The first time that happened was in 1863, when he was 
twenty-six and was appointed assistant district attorney of 
Brie County. Two years later his political friends 
probably without his knowledge, certainly without his 
request nominated him for district attorney. He was de- 
feated by one of his own best friends. Not at all disgruntled 
over the outcome, Cleveland went back to his own private 
practice, this time as partner in one of Buffalo's best-known 
kw firms. 

Only a few years later, when he was thirty, he had 
reached the place in his practice where he was earning 
enough to live simply and contentedly. Apparently he had 
no particular ambition to gain wealth or fame. In fact then, 
as always, he seemed to want to avoid the responsibility 
connected with a fortune or with high office. He wanted, 
instead, freedom to live as he liked to live freedom to 
work long hard hours, but also freedom to see his friends, 
to fish alongside quiet streams, and to go hunting in all 
sorts of weather. 

Into this quiet life, in 1870, his Democrat friends brought 
their proposal that he run for sheriff of Erie County. He 
refused. His friends insisted. Whereupon, Cleveknd 

232 



GOING STEADILY 

stopped to think that, maybe, after all he would better 
think the matter over. If he were elected, he could save a 
little money which up to that time he had never been 
able to do. He would have more time to read and study. 
Maybe, also, he could really do something worth while 
for the people of Erie County. That kst thought had great 
weight with the son of Richard Cleveknd. 

So he consented to run for sheriff. He was elected. It is 
not on record that the new place brought much to him 
personally in savings or self-improvement. But it is very 
much on record what he did for Erie County; also what he 
did not do to meet the hopes of his Democrat friends. Those 
friends had just been waiting for the day when their candi' 
date would be elected and thus give them a chance at the 
spoils which their Republican opponent had been gathering 
in for years. 

But Grover Cleveland had other ideas of public service. 
Although always very free in spending his own money, he 
now showed himself as unceasingly cautious about spending 
that of the people who had elected him. No man, no matter 
how influential a Democrat he might be, no matter how hard 
he had worked to elect the new Sheriff had a ghost of a 
chance for favors unless he could prove that his ability to 
serve was fitted to the position he wanted. Even then, 
if a man of equal ability bid lower than the Democrat 
friend that man was given the job. Grover Cleveland 
believed in good bargains for his people. What is more he 
got them. 

For that reason he went back to his kw at the end of his 
term as sheriff with even a fairer reputation for fearless 
honesty than when he accepted that title. Again settling 
down to his practice, he steadily advanced to become at 
the end of eight years one of the outstanding men of his 

233 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

profession in western New York. Then, again, because he 
was popular as a man, because he was sound as a lawyer, 
because he was known as an honest politician, Buffalo 
Democrats saw in him the one who might be strong enough 
to overthrow the long-established Republican power in 
their city. 

In 1881 Cleveland was, therefore, nominated for mayor 
of Buffalo. The election showed how tired the city really 
was of extravagance and loose business methods in ruling; 
for Cleveland won. With the same fearless independence 
of his own party leaders that he had shown when sheriff, 
he now proceeded to clean up Buffalo's city government. 
Good business methods took the place of poor ones. Clean- 
cut organisation of city departments took the place of 
slipshod methods. In short, Grover Cleveland's city 
prospered under him as his county had done. 



ONCE more his fame spread spread so far that in the very 
same year which saw him elected mayor of Buffalo, his 
party decided to see whether they could not elect him 
governor of the state of New York. They found that they 
not only could, but that through various splits in the 
Republican ranks, together with Cleveland's unquestioned 
hold on the people, their man was swept into office by the 
unheard-of plurality of 192,850. As governor, Grover 
Cleveland applied the same fundamental principles of 
honesty that had won him fame as sheriff and mayor. 
His party leaders found no favor unless they could serve 
public welfare. He saw to it that a good Civil Service Law 
further safeguarded public office. All bills were just as 
laboriously measured by the Governor as the load of wood 
delivered to the county jail had been years before. If a bill 

234 



GOING STEADILY 

was found to kck what the people should have through its 
passage Grover Cleveland unhesitatingly, fearlessly, 
vetoed it. 

Instead of killing him politically, this use of his executive 
power won him high regard. That is why the national 
Democratic party saw good presidential timber in him in 
1884. That is why they determined to place all their hope 
on him in their effort to dislodge the national Republican 
party after that party had been continuously in power fee 
twenty'three years. So they nominated him for president. 
After that, Democratic leaders were shrewd enough to 
build their campaign, very generally, of the same planks 
that Cleveland had used in constructing his own political 
career. Those were the reform of departments wherever 
reform was needed; the filling of offices on merit; the 
establishment of a sound and safe financial system; the fair 
treatment for the kboring man and consideration for the 
rights of American industries. 

Since those planks met pretty much all the demands of the 
American people, not only at that time but for several presi- 
dential administrations before, Grover Cleveland's campaign 
had a good start. The fight that followed, however, was a 
stiff and bitter one. Much political mud was thrown and 
thrown freely. Even in the end, the vote was very close. 

But Grover Cleveland again won the victory. Anyone 
who knew then or knows now, the constant training for 
honesty and high, fair dealing he had received as a boy, 
anyone who had followed his public career up to the time 
he became president, would know that as Chief Executive 
of the United States he would go right on applying princi- 
ples to national service that he had found satisfactory in 
state, county, and city. For his first four years, he worked 
hard to secure a Civil Service which would be free from all 

235 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

party influence. To do that, he favored what is known as 
the Pendleton Bill which demanded that subordinate service 
be organised and that all appointments and promotions be 
made on the basis of ability revealed in examinations. This 
bill applied at first to clerkships; but the president had the 
power to add other offices from time to time. He used that 
power to add 11,757 in these first four years. 

As when governor of New York, so now as president, 
Cleveland used the veto power fearlessly and frequently. 
One of the bills he refused to approve was the Dependent 
Pension Bill through which, if passed, he saw possibilities 
of great loss to the United States Treasury. He attacked 
severely the protection of home industries by high tariff. 
He insisted on studying for himself a plea for fair treatment 
made by an Indian Chief. And with all of this, he greatly 
offended his own party leaders. He also alarmed them, so 
that, although they re^nominated him, they, probably, did 
not handle their second campaign for him with as much 
vigor as they had the first four years before. In the end, 
Grover Cleveknd was defeated by the Republican candi- 
date Benjamin Harrison. 



AGAIN he returned to his kw practice this time to a 
New York office. Defeat did not make him unhappy. On 
the other hand he was glad of the freedom it brought him 
to go on his beloved hunting and fishing excursions, to add 
to his income still needing to be increased and to have 
leisure to enjoy his own home, and his child Ruth, of 
whom at her birth, he wrote to a friend, 

"I have just entered the real world, and see in a 
small child "more of value than I have ever 
called my own." 

236 



GOING STEADILY 

But he was not to have that freedom for long. There was 
the question of tariff needing to be answered. There was 
also the one of sound money. Grover Cleveland had ex' 
pressed himself freely on both and in a way that apparently 
appealed to the American people. In consequence he was 
nominated for president again in 1892. 

And was elected the only man so far in the history of 
the United States to be reelected as president following the 
intervention of another man's administration. The years 
of his second term were certainly stormy ones. The whole 
country was in an uproar over the silver and tariff questions. 
President Cleveknd considered the Sherman Silver Act of 
Harrison's administration chiefly to blame for the unsettled 
financial situation spreading over the land. He, therefore, 
called a special session of Congress and by the very force 
of his will compelled both House and Senate to repeal the 
Sherman Act. That done, the President turned his attention 
to the tariff and directed the forming of a bill which he felt 
would reduce the high duties kid on imported articles. 
By the time the House and Senate finished amending the 
bill to suit themselves, Cleveland found it so opposite to 
his ideas that he refused to sign it although he allowed it 
to become a kw without his signature. 

But his work on neither the silver or the tariff question 
came soon enough to end the nation's financial troubles. 
The stock of gold in the Federal Treasury was being used 
to meet current debts. People grew alarmed and rushed to 
exchange their legal tender notes for gold. The government 
began to borrow. Bonds amounting to $162,000,000 were 
issued. Because of all this, business became unsettled, 
wages were lowered, and labor troubles arose. 

Among the kst was the Pullman strike beginning in 
Chicago and spreading out to the Pacific coast. Cleveland 

237 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

after waiting what seemed to him an inexcusably long time 
for the Illinois governor to settle the trouble ordered 
federal troops to clear the way for trains to run as usual 
Those troops took just one day to disperse the mobs and 
one week to break the strike. 

To add to these internal troubles there was the annexa- 
tion of Hawaii to vex his soul. With his sense of fair pky 
for the weak as well as the strong he could not think it was 
just to take away the right of Hawaii to have its own rule. 
He, therefore, withdrew President Harrison's Hawaiian 
treaty from the Senate and tried unsuccessfully to re- 
store the old government. 

The same desire to protect weak governments from those 
who were stronger, led him to send a special message to 
Congress, December, 1895, warning that body of Great 
Britain's threatened infringement of the Monroe Doctrine 
in her boundary trouble between British Guiana and 
Venezuela. For a time following that warning, American 
relations with Great Britain grew very strained. The 
trouble, however, was finally adjusted in a way to permit 
both England and the United States to maintain their 
national dignity. 

Through all of these troublesome years, Grover Cleveknd 
never, for one second, failed to use to the full the power his 
inaugural oath gave him. He looked upon the authority of 
the president as second to none. And since he did consider 
it so, he was the commanding figure in the center of every 
struggle. Even with his strong body and active mind, he 
must have been weary endugh to rest at the end of his 
second term. Besides there was his love of his own freedom 
always making private life welcome. 

That life was taken up in Princeton, New Jersey, where 
he found a deep interest in the University, and where 

238 



GOING STEADILY 

people from far and wide came to consult Mm. Towards 
his seventy'first birthday, he began to break* Not long 
after that day he sent back to his old home for one of the 
worn hymn books his father had used for family prayers 
when the family were all together. Then he set the affairs 
of his life carefully in order. That done, he went on his way, 
saying: 

"I have tried so hard to do right. 1 " 1 



239 



III. BENJAMIN HARRISON 



LOVE for the American flag was born and bred in the very 
bones of Benjamin Harrison. That love was, also, the sort 
that gave fully and freely in service to the country over 
which that flag flew. Away back in the blood'Stirring days 
of 1776, there had been a Benjamin Harrison, Speaker of the 
Virginia House of Burgesses, governor of the same state, 
and member of the Continental Congress, whose name 
stands among those of other Virginians who signed the 
Declaration of Independence. The son of that sturdy 
patriot was no less a person than William Henry Harrison, 
friend of the West, hero of Tippecanoe, and ninth president 
of the United States. 

As a man who loved the Middle West plains, William 
Henry Harrison took up a tract of land lying along the 
Ohio, and established a home for his family there. It was 
his son, John Scott Harrison, who was the father of the 
second Benjamin Harrison, twenty^third president of the 
United States. John Scott, himself, although a good, active 
citizen of his country, did not care much for politics or 
political parties. To be sure he served as a member of the 
national House of Representatives; but he refused to run 
for lieutenant governor of Ohio because he believed that 
much of the trouble leading up to the Civil War was due 
to the fight between political parties. A very generous, 
courteous, broad-minded, well-informed man, he naturally 
loved to entertain extensively. For a time, the broad acres 
inherited from his father's estate made it possible for him 
to do this much as he liked. But his friends, his hospitality, 
and his lack of really practical management finally left him 
too poor to keep up his old manner of living. 

240 



GOING STEADILY 

Therefore, there wasn't a great deal of money left in the 
family by the time Benjamin Harrison was born, on the old 
farm, near North Bend, Ohio, in 1833. There he spent all 
of his early years, working out in the fields and studying in 
a small schoolhouse on his father's knd. Later, he went to 
Farmer's College, near Cincinnati, for two years, and then 
on to Miami University where he graduated when he was 
nineteen. A year later he was admitted to the tar. 



SINCE his father's knd extended west to touch the Indiana 
boundary, the Harrisons were considered among the 
founders of that state quite as much as of Ohio. Benjamin, 
therefore, decided to trust his future to Indiana and so 
traveled up to take his chances in Indianapolis. To be sure, 
he had only one friend in that town but that friend per- 
mitted him to use a desk in one corner of his office. 

There, the fair-haired, simply dressed, quiet young fellow 
began his practice. He earned his first money, $2.50 a day, 
as a crier of the federal court. When his first case was tried, 
he appeared for his argument, modest and nervous. Those 
were the days of candles. Young kwyer Harrison found 
only one flickering flame on his desk. He moved it this way 
and that, but unable to read his notes, he finally shoved 
candle, papers, and all to one side and began to speak 
directly to the judge and jury. To his great delight he found 
he not only could speak without embarrassment, but that 
he could recall every necessary fact for his plea. 

With such a start, he, of course, went on with confidence, 
in his own ability. Before long he had a good practice. But 
even so, he and his young wife had to go to housekeeping 
in a home made up of a combination kitchen and living 
room, one bedroom, and a lean-to shed Perhaps that was 

243 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

one reason why lie decided to try to increase his income. 
At any rate he ran for Supreme Court reporter and was 
elected. But that campaign was in 1860. Between his election 
and the time for him to begin serving, Abraham Lincoln's 
call for an army to defend the Union rang out over the 
land. 

Of course, coming from the family he did, anyone would 
know what Benjamin Harrison would do. He began by 
raising his own company with a commission of second 
lieutenant. He was promoted to colonel of the Seventieth 
Regiment of Indiana Volunteers and sent down into 
Kentucky. There he showed particular skill as a drill master. 
Later he distinguished himself in several battles and took 
part in Sherman^s attack on Atlanta. By 1865, he had won 
sufficient recognition to be commissioned brevet lieutenant 
general. 

Then the war ended and he was free to return to his 
law practice in Indiana. In the meantime, because of his 
entering the army and staying there, his election to the 
office of Supreme Court reporter several years before, had 
done him no good. In fact, that office had, shortly after, 
been declared vacant. To be sure, in 1864, his Republican 
friends had reelected him with a very gratifying majority, 
but even then, he refused to take up the work of that office 
until the war was won and he was mustered out. 



WITH his inherited political sense, with his memory of 
long and frequent discussions of government affairs in his 
own father's home, it could not be expected that Benjamin 
Harrison would keep out of public service. Of course, with 
a loyalty born of his Civil War experience, he devoted 
himself to the election of General Grant as president, 

244 



GOING STEADILY 

in both 1868 and 1872. He, himself, however, was 
when he ran for governor in 1876. Two years later, he 
presided over his state convention, and two years after that, 
was chairman of the state delegation at the Chicago national 
convention. There, he worked to nominate Garfield. In 
turn, Garfield offered Harrison a place in his cabinet which 
Harrison refused because of his election to the United 
States Senate. 

As a senator he showed the same keen interest in the 
development of the West that his grandfather, William 
Henry Harrison, had shown. He served on the Committee 
of Military and Indian Affairs and tried to get North and 
South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington admitted 
as states. Although he failed to get that accomplished then, 
he did see those territories come into the Union in his own 
administration. 

At the end of his six years in the Senate, he was defeated 
when he ran for reelection. But he had only a few months 
back in his kw office before the Republican party nominated 
him for president to run against Grover Cleveland. 
Friendly, courteous, cautiously safe on the question of 
tariff, he was elected. And a second Harrison took up the 
lead in national government. 

Also a Harrison that had a chance to do what his grand- 
father's death, a month after taking the presidential oath, 
had not had a chance to do that was to give the United 
States a very vigorously progressive administration. The 
Cleveknd tariff controversy was continued and settled, 
temporarily at least, by the passage of the McKinley 
Tariff Bill The Sherman silver bill did the same, also for 
the time being, for the "sound money" question. Civil 
Service reform another burning issue progressed satis" 
factorily. The navy was enlarged. 

245 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

In addition to crowding all of these domestic matters 
into his administration, Benjamin Harrison did much to 
advance the position of the United States with foreign 
governments. To further friendly relations with neighboring 
governments, a Pan- American Congress was held at Wash- 
ington. In accordance with a clause of the McKinley Tariff 
Bill, commercial reciprocity was established with several 
American and European nations. Controversies with Chile, 
with Germany over the Samoa Islands, and with Great 
Britain over the seaWur industry along the Behring Sea, 
were all adjusted. 

As a whole, the second Harrison president accomplished 
much to advance industry, to reduce public debt, and to 
place the United States government in a better position 
with world powers. But he did not do enough, evidently, 
to loosen Grover Cleveland's hold on the country. As a 
result partly because of the serious labor difficulties 
arising after the development of Republican high tariff 
policy Benjamin Harrison was defeated by Cleveland in 
the presidential election of 1893. 



ONCE more, he returned to Indianapolis. But even then, he 
was not to be left alone to enjoy his own life quietly there. 
Perhaps, he preferred not to be left alone. At any rate, he 
was asked to serve as chief counsel at Venezuela in connec- 
tion with the boundary trouble between that country and 
British Guiana. He accepted. He also accepted an appoint- 
ment as delegate to the Peace Conference held at The 
Hague in 1899. Only two years later, he died at his home in 
Indianapolis March, 1901. Surely he lived his sixty-eight 
years worthy of the Harrison family. 



246 



Chapter X 

DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 



I. WILLIAM MCKINLEY 



ONE day back in the nineties of the last century, a 
pleasant-faced man stood at the head of an immense 
dining-room looking out over the bowed heads of one 
thousand orphan boys and girls muttering their brief 
blessing over the noonday meal As they looked up, the 
man began to speak. He spoke with deep feeling, for those 
boys and girls were the children of Civil War soldiers. The 
man speaking had marched many a mile, fought many a 
battle with their fathers. At the close of his speech, he 
stepped forward as if he wanted to come very near to them, 
and said: 

"If ever I can do anything for any one of you* will 
you come to me?" 

In that thousand was a thin, tall, awkward girl who 
remembered what the speaker said. Several years later, 
she graduated from that home, found her way to Wash- 
ington, then to the White House, and, because she was very 
persistent, into the presence of the President himself. 
That President was the speaker of years before. The girl 
told him she needed help. She told him what she thought 
she could do if she had a chance. He gave her that chance. 
She made good. 

247 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

That man was William McKinley, governor of Ohio, at 
the time of that noonday speech, president of the United 
States when that girl appealed to him for her right to live 
and work as she knew she could and should. Perhaps it was 
his dogged, Scotch persistence which kept him climbing 
the political ladder when once he saw things up higher he 
wanted to do. Perhaps it was his Irish blood that made him 
strike out hard whenever he had to fight to win. He had 
both of those national strains in him, for his father was 
Scotch-Irish, his mother of straight Scotch descent. The 
families on both sides, however, had lived in Pennsylvania 
for generations before traveling on to Ohio. There, many 
years later, William McKinley, father of the president, met 
and married Nancy Allison. 

And it was in that state, in the small town of Niles, that 
William MdCinley was born in 1843, the, seventh among 
nine brothers and sisters. His father was a hard-working 
foundryman. His mother also worked hard to make his 
small wages spread over the needs of her large family. 
Every one of the nine children had, therefore, to look out 
for himself from the time he could walk. Every one of the 
older ones had also to do his share of looking after the 
younger ones as well as helping to carry wood and water, 
run errands, and make himself generally useful. There 
were no shirks allowed in the McKinley family. 

But busy as the father and mother must have been, they 
still found time to see that their whole nine growing, 
active boys and girls went to school. And attended to 
business when they went. They also saw that the whole 
family went to church and Sunday school and grew up 
with the right sort of reverence for Bible teaching. 

In between all of these numerous demands of work, 
study, and religious training, the children could play where 

248 



DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

and how they pleased just so long as they played a clean 
game. William seems to have found a fair amount of time 
to have a good time. He ran barefoot from the day the 
ice began to melt in the spring until the first snow fell in 
the fall. He played marbles, lew kites, pitched and batted 
in the neighborhood nine, and swam for hours in the old 
swimming hole of Yellow Creek. 

In the midst of those busy days, the McKinleys decided 
that Poland* Ohio, had better schools than Niles. Therefore, 
when William was nine, they all moved on to that town. 
There he went to the Poknd Union Seminary, debated, 
particularly shone in the languages, and, quite unusual for 
a boy of his kind, found he liked and understood poetry. 
He kept on at the seminary for eight years. By that time he 
was prepared to enter the junior ckss of Allegheny College 
at Meadville, Pennsylvania. But, because he studied too 
hard and his health broke, or because he needed to earn 
money or both he left that college before he graduated. 
He went back to Poland, found a country school needing a 
teacher, applied, and got the place. 



BUT the young man had no more than begun to earn the 
money so much needed, when the Civil War broke into 
his plans, as it did into the plans of every young man who 
had back of him what William McKinley had. All of his 
life he had heard tales of how his great-grandfather had 
fought in the American Revolution. Most of his life he 
had also listened to his parents and neighbors condemning 
slavery. There was no question in his mind or in that of the 
McKinley femily about what he should do. He enlisted 
and quickly as a private in the Twenty-third Ohio 
Volunteer Infantry. 

251 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

His regiment was ordered into Virginia. There he first 
won attention by risking his life to carry hot coffee and 
food to the fighting lines. For that he won his first pro" 
motion that of second lieutenant. In the years following 
he won one promotion after another for gallant service 
until he reached the command of brevetted major of 
volunteers in 1865. During that time he also served on the 
staff of General Rutherford Hayes. Altogether he gave 
four full years as his share towards saving the Union and 
freeing the slaves. At the end of that time, despite sleeping 
anywhere, anyhow, despite the scant rations of army life, 
despite the long hours of marching and facing fire William 
McKinley was mustered out a strong and active man with 
no sign left of the poor health of his college days. 

With that new strength, he plunged into the study of 
law, went to the Albany Law School in New York to 
complete his course and was admitted to the bar two years 
after the war. That done, he established himself at Canton, 
Ohio, where he was to make his home the rest of his Hfe. 
The very next year after opening his law office, came 
General Grant's campaign for the presidency. As a loyal 
soldier, William McKinley turned his back on his practice 
for long days at a time to work for his old Civil War 
commander's election. 

He worked well enough to attract the attention of 
Republican leaders, and, in another year, to win for himself 
the election as prosecuting attorney. At the end of his term, 
however, he was defeated for reelection, and returned to 
his own practice of law. But not for long, since Governor 
Hayes, his own Ohio war general, came up for reelection. 
Again William McKinley threw his private work aside to 
make speeches, to meet with committees in short, to 
give his whole time to work throughout that campaign. 

252 



DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

And to cause the politicians of his state to begin to reckon 
with him as a man of power who knew how to speak simply, 
forcibly, and thus win his people. 



IN 1876 those people decided to send him to Congress 
at Washington as Republican representative of his Ohio 
district. And did so in face of the fact that that district was 
strongly a Democratic one. Also, they continued to elect 
him until 1891 with the exception of only a few months 
in 1882. 

In those fifteen years what did William McKinley do 
to make him stand out above his fellows? Because he had 
been bom, and had grown up among manufacturing people, 
he was a firm believer in a high protective tariff. To give 
him the power to speak and act effectively for what he 
believed, he studied without ceasing all through those 
years. As a result of both experience and study, he became 
known as one of the best authorities of his time on indus- 
trial welfare and tariff. He debated earnestly and to the 
point on these topics; also on the silver question. He 
served on the Ways and Means Committee as both member 
and chairman. 

Finally, William McKinley came to be looked upon as 
the Republican leader of the House of Representatives. 
Then, in 1890, he introduced his famous tariff hill, which 
piled up protective duties on imports until foreign conn** 
tries bitterly opposed them and the feeling at home rose 
so strongly against him as to cause his defeat for reelection. 
If the clauses of the act having to do with reciprocity had 
been accepted by foreign trade as the supporters of the bill 
had thought they would be, the final effect on American 
industrial leaders might have been different. But the re- 

253 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

jection of the whole policy of high tariff under the Cleveland 
administration, gave no one a chance to measure the full 
value of such treaties as were made under those clauses. 

The outburst of criticism against this bill bearing his 
name, even though it did cost him his seat in Congress, 
gave William McKinley no great cause for political grief. 
The very next year he was elected governor of Ohio. He 
was reelected in 1895. In the meantime he continued active 
in the national party. By 1896, his hold on party and 
country was considered strong enough for the Republican 
convention to nominate him for president; and to include 
his policy of high tariff in the campaign platform. 

That policy and the one for a gold standard, as against 
both gold and silver, were the chief issues argued for and 
against during the months following. The campaign was 
a wildly exciting one with William Jennings Bryan and his 
free'silver cause sweeping people off their feet. To be sure, 
William McKinley did not show much excitement. Instead 
of traveling hither and yon as Bryan was doing, he stayed 
quietly at home in Canton, and let people come to him. 
They came by thousands. He met them with simple, 
brief speeches. And he won the election. 



As president, William McKinley began by seeing that 
what he had promised to do was done. Through what is 
known as the Dingley Tariff Law, American industries 
were protected. The gold standard was firmly established 
by kw. The Sherman Anti-trust Act helped the cause of 
small corporations against larger ones. Considerable prog' 
ress was made towards curbing interstate railroads from 
showing favor in rates to larger prosperous business while 
refusing that favor to those really needing it. 

254 . 



DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

All of this legislation to protect the weaker industries, 
while also being fair to the stronger ones* was quite in 
keeping with the understanding sympathy William Mo* 
Kinley had expressed that noonday when lie offered to 
help any orphaned son or daughter of his old Civil War 
comrades. Maybe it was because he, himself, knew so well 
the price paid for that war that he stood so long hesitating 
to enter another. 

For another war had begun to throw its threatening 
shadow over America as early as the first year of his adminis- 
tration. That shadow loomed up out of Spain's oppression of 
Cuba. During what seemed an endless number of months, the 
on-coming storm grew blacker, while the people of the 
United States waited uneasily, impatiently, for President 
McKinley to move. Tales of cruelty, of widespread op- 
pression, continued to come from the Cubans. The battle- 
ship Maine was sent to Havana to protect American citizens 
on the island, and was sunk with her whole crew of 253 
men. Even after that, nearly two months passed before the 
President finally yielded and Congress declared that 
"The people of Cuba are and of right ought to be free 
and independent." 

That declaration, echoing down from 1776 to ring out 
loudly once more for a struggling people, acted like magic on 
the United States. Where people had opposed the war 
before, they now threw themselves heart and soul into 
helping to win it. Men who had long wanted to be off to 
the aid of the suffering islanders started for camps or to 
embark for immediate service. 

Since that declaration was hurled against Spain, it 
involved the Spanish possessions in the Pacific as well as 
in the Atlantic. War was declared April 19, 1898. Early 
in the morning of the first day of May, Admiral Dewey 

255 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

entered Manik harbor with his American fleet and set up 
a blockade while waiting for American troops to arrive 
and help take the city which was done in August. 

In the meantime the war was going on by sea and by 
land along the southeastern coast of America. The Spanish 
fleet there was defeated July third. In the face of terrible 
heat, of devastating fevers, of a lack of modern equipment, 
the American land forces fought their way on to Santiago 
and victory two weeks later. 

By July 26, Spain was inquiring what America's terms 
of peace would be. She was told; and all fighting was 
ordered to cease. It was December, however, before the 
treaty of peace was finally signed. By its terms Spain gave 
up all claims to Cuba, ceded Porto Rico and other smaller 
isknds to the United States, and, in turn, for $20,000,000, 
turned over the entire group of the Philippines to the 
United States government. 

All of which meant that the United States, winning 
the war with Spain, had brought to herself new and heavy 
responsibilities in connection with all of these island 
people. To add to those responsibilities, a long-discussed 
question of Hawaiian government had been settled by the 
annexation of that group of islands. A section of the 
Samoan Isknds also came under American control. Which 
all meant that the long, long years of confining herself to 
affairs within her own borders had ended for the United 
States. With increasing power and prosperity had come 
increasing demands and, as always, those demands in* 
eluded a generous protection of a weak neighbor by a 
stronger one. 

With this record back of him for one administration, 
William McKinley was nominated for a second term. And 
with him, for vice-president, Theodore Roosevelt, leader 

256 



DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

of Ms Rough Riders in the brilHant Cuban victory of San 
Juan Hill. The campaign that followed showed that 
William McKinley was not popular with all of his people. 
He was accused of favoring capital over labor. He was 
also accused of having been too domineering in his policies 
connected with the government of the new island pos- 
sessions. But against all of that stood the unquestioned 
prosperity of the whole country. Against it also stood the 
American government's understanding friendly relations 
with Great Britain relations which had grown stronger 
during the delicate adjustments necessary because of the 
Spanish American War. 

So, at the end of a vigorous campaign, William McKinley 
was reelected. Immediately Congress reached out to help 
Cuba set up her own government. Peace began to be 
established in the Philippines. Then, with those countries 
well on their way to a happy adjustment, the President 
decided to travel out through the United States, and thus 
come to know all of his own people better. 

He took most of his cabinet with him. The party swung 
down through the South, leisurely, stopping along the way 
to talk with the people there and to do much toward 
removing the lingering feeling of bitter resentment left 
by the Civil War. On his way back, President McKinley 
went to Buffalo to visit the Pan-American Exposition. While 
he 'was attending a reception there, a young Polish anarchist, 
Leon Csolgoss, pushed through the crowd and shot him. 
He lived four days, while the nation waited with heavy 
hearts. When the news of his death flashed over the 
country, the grief shown everywhere by all classes was 
proof of the deep affection America had for William 
McKinley. That feeling extended over seas. In England, 
meetings were held to express the regard that country 

257 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

had for him. Back in the United States, all business, at the 
hour of his burial, ceased, while men, women and children 
stood with bowed heads in a hushed silence. All political 
differences were forgotten. A brave man, a kind, under- 
standing friend, had gone out of American life. 



258 



II. THEODORE ROOSEVELT 



AND in the hush of the nation's grief, Theodore Roosevelt 
stepped forth that September day from the vice^-presidency 
to the presidency. No man ever took the oath of the 
president who was more thoroughly American than he. 
No man ever took that oath understanding better die 
various nationalities from which American citis^ns had 
come than he. Why shouldn't he have understood? In his 
own veins ran the blood of six of those nationalities 
Holknd Dutch, English, Scotch, Irish, French Huguenot, 
and a faint strain of German. 

So far as understanding went, no man ever came to the 
presidents chair who could enter more readily into the 
feelings of the Easterner, the Westerner, the Northerner, or 
the Southerner. He had Kved with them all. He had shared 
their likes and dislikes. He had worked side by side with 
many of them for the common good of all in their own 
particular section. 

Because of all of those ties made through inheritance, 
through environment, through active experience, Theodore 
Roosevelt stood very close that September day, not to one 
ckss alone, not to one part alone, but to all of his country 
alike. Did he, standing thus, feel more deeply than others, 
his responsibility to defend and protect the Constitution? 

That would be hard to say. But at any rate no one 
could doubt the great sacredness of his oath to him. So far 
as defending his country went, he just naturally would 
have done that without any oath to bind him. All of the 
men and women as well of his family had stood ready 
to do that. On the Roosevelt side those men and women 
had come from Holland to settle in New Amsterdam 

259 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

as far back as 1649. They had stayed right there ever after. 
They had resented the British rule with the rest of the 
colonists. They had expressed that resentment in practical 
plans for a new government. They had fought in the 
Revolution to make that government possible. When all 
of that was done, they went right on living in New York 
City, good business men, and stalwart citizens under the 
Constitution. 

On the other hand, Theodore Roosevelt's mother was 
Martha Bullock, whose ancestors had come from Scotland 
to settle in Georgia. Just as the Roosevelts had lived on 
in the North, the Bullocks had lived down in the South, 
loyally supporting their people, their land, and their customs. 
The Theodore Roosevelt who found himself so unex- 
pectedly the president of the United States, was therefore 
equally a son of both the North and the South. What is 
more, since he was born in 1858, his early years were the 
years when the strife between those two sections grew into 
the tragic hate and grief of civil war. 

But Theodore Roosevelt senior, father of the president, 
and Martha Bullock, his mother, were far too fine people 
to allow any of that strife to mar the peace of their New 
York home. Because of the kindly tolerance and patient 
forbearance that comes from deep love, from culture, and 
self-control, that home was not only a place free from 
friction but evidently a place of happy security. 

And if ever a child needed such a home it was small 
Teddy Roosevelt. He might so easily have been unhappy, 
for he was a frail little fellow, gasping through long fearful 
nights with asthma, playing cautious games through the 
day with girls, or hiding away by himself to read because 
he was not strong enough to take his own part among the 
boys of the neighborhood. 

260 



DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

Those were the years when his father used to 
him up, fearful and whee2ing pitifully, to carry him ten" 
derly back and forth until he grew easier and fell asleep. 
Of course, the small boy grew up adoring that tall strong 
father. That is one reason why when that father told him 
he could grow strong if he would that Theodore Junior 
decided he would. It was no easy goal he set out to reach. 
But, gradually, after days and months, he began to skate a 
little, swim a little, ride horseback and tramp on his 
father's Long Island estate. Slowly, steadily, he whipped 
every handicap. Slowly, steadily, he developed his strength 
until he could hold his own in out-of-door games. As the 
years passed he finally came to have a body like iron, an 
endurance that could meet demands few men have ever been 
called to meet. 

In the meantime he was studying under tutors 
probably because he was not yet strong enough to do 
anything else. He also was traveling abroad, once through 
Europe and again to Africa, where he had a trip up the 
Nile and from where he came back with such a fine collection 
of Egyptian birds that the Smithsonian Museum at Wash' 
ington gave it a place among its exhibits. 

At eighteen he was ready in body and mind for Harvard. 
Except for a queer tumbling forth of his words whenever 
he felt keenly, Theodore Roosevelt was no different from 
many another college boy who does creditable work and 
graduates after four years. He took part in all regular 
activities during that time, but he gave no sign of being 
more brilliant or of having greater powers of leadership 
than any of his fellows. 

But in those four years, he was also spending long 
vacations in the Maine woods. There he tramped long 
rough trails, slept, ate, and lived with men whose only 

263 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

measure of any man was how he could and would accept 
and carry his own full share of responsibility. They were 
backwoodsmen who knew nothing of cities or towns. 
But they knew courage. They knew fair, honest dealing. 
Thoedore Roosevelt measured up to their standards and 
throughout all of his life he was to be grateful he did, 



To begin with he carried that measure back to New 
York, where, right away, even while studying law, he 
began to apply it to men playing the political game. 
Fortunately, for his future, the group he first met also 
measured up fairly well. He liked them. They liked him 
liked him so well that within a year after he had graduated 
from Harvard, they managed to nominate him as a member 
of the New York State legislature. They helped him put 
up a good fight against his opponent, William Vincent Astor, 
and finally landed him, victoriously, in his seat at Albany. 

From that seat he began to apply his rules of measure- 
ment to public officials. According to his count he soon 
found certain of them falling short of what he and his 
Maine friends considered honest. Within six weeks, the 
young and new legislator, therefore, rose to his feet and 
moved that one of those not measuring up an out-' 
standing judge should be brought to account. He lost 
his motion, but he did succeed in drawing attention to the 
fact that crookedness existed in high places. 

Through that experience and through others that fol- 
lowed in his three years of service in the New York 
legislature, Theodore Roosevelt learned many things. Per- 
haps the most important one was that success in the game 
of politics depends more on how well the members of a 
party pull together, than in the brilliance of one or several 

264 



DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

pulling alone. While learning and applying these prin- 
ciples, he became the acknowledged leader of a 
group of young men who wanted what he wanted and 
that was to clean up corruption in public office. 

Those young men saw to it that he went as delegate 
to the Republican National Convention in 1884. Accord- 
ing to his instructions he worked hard and faithfully to 
nominate the choice of his group. When that choice was 
defeated, however, and James G. Elaine was nominated, 
instead, Theodore Roosevelt immediately put into prac- 
tice his recently learned political rule. He had not wanted 
Blaine. Neither had his small group wanted that leader. But 
the majority of the Republican party evidently did. If 
that were true, then as a member of the whole party, 
he Theodore Roosevelt would turn about and work 
for Blaine, which he did. 

Then what happened? Instead of approving what he 
had done as a good party move, he was accused of having 
transferred his support to Blaine so as to be cm the 
winning side. Nothing could have been further from 
Roosevelt's standard of honest dealing. The blame cut, 
and cut deep. 

About the same time, his young wife, whom he had 
married only a few months after leaving Harvard, died, 
as his first child was born. To add to that crushing grief, 
his mother followed his wife only twelve hours later. 
But, squaring his shoulders, Theodore Roosevelt, then 
only twenty-eight, went straight on through the campaign 
as he felt his responsibility demanded he should. But when 
that was finished he turned his back on New York. He 
wanted to get away away out under still, wide skies. 
So he started west and he never stopped until he reached 
the Bad Lands of Western Dakota. There on a ranch of 

265 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

his own, riding mile upon mile over soft-colored sand dunes, 
living in a tiny one-room log cabin alone he conquered 
his grief and the injustice he felt had been shown him by 
his political associates. Gradually, also, he came to 
know his neighbors; to win real friends among wild'riding 
cowboys; and then after a time to become a leader 
in establishing law and order in that country where not 
much of either had existed except to be broken. For two 
whole years he lived the life of those people, managed his 
ranch, and, in between times, wrote for hours in the quiet 
of his own cabin. 



IN 1886, at peace with himself and his world, Roosevelt 
returned to New York once more to enter politics this 
time as a Republican candidate for mayor of New York 
City. He was defeated. With that defeat he decided he 
was through with public life. He married again this time 
one of the little girls with whom he had played as a child 
bought a home. Sagamore Hill, out near Oyster Bay, 
Long Island, and started to give all of his time to writing. 
But it was impossible for him to keep out of politics. 
There was such a lot of corruption in public affairs that 
could be cleaned up if one cared enough to do it. And 
Theodore Roosevelt did care. Therefore, when President 
Harrison, in 1889, appointed him a member of the United 
States Civil Service Commission, he accepted, went to 
Washington, and began to wage his war against the spoils 
system. That war, under his leadership, lasted six years 
and was accompanied by much loud noise both for and 
against Roosevelt. Dramatic, forcible, fairly gripping people 
to him by his strong personality, he not only set straight 
much that was crooked, but he made American people see 

266 



DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

that appointment to public office through the Civil Service 
examination was the only appointment which could put 
the right man- in the right place. 

Did he like his job? Evidently he did, for at the end of his 
half do2^n years in that commission, he was asked to head 
the New York Police Board. And accepted. With, a clean 
sweep, he rid his new department of all la^y and 
inefficient men. He baknced their removal by rewarding all 
others who deserved reward. Once more, there was much 
loud approval; once more there was equally loud and wide- 
spread disapproval. 

Right in the midst of all this shouting. President Me- 
Kinley appointed Roosevelt assistant secretary of the navy. 
Roosevelt accepted accepted just at the time the Cubans 
were crying out for the United States to protect them from 
Spain. And the United States government was coming to 
think it would have to answer that cry. But it could not 
do that without a strong navy and the United States 
navy was anything but strong. 

To the new assistant secretary there was just one thing 
to do and that was to make that navy strong. So he did it. 
Ships were overhauled, supplied with guns, and men were 
trained to make "shots that hit." The whole department 
was reorganised from top to bottom. The task was one 
which nobody could have liked any better than Theodore 
Roosevelt. And a task which he tackled with great vigor, 
pursued without stopping, and only left when war was 
finally declared and he was off to join his friend. Dr. Leonard 
Wood, in organising the first United States cavalry. 



THE United States army had never seen anything quite 
like the regiment Theodore Roosevelt brought together. 

267 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

There were New York City policemen who had seen him 
at work cleaning up their own department. There were 
college athletes whom he had seen play and to whom, and 
their fellows, he had once said: 

"In life as in a football game, the principle to 
follow is: Hit the line hard; don't foul and don't 
shirk, but hit the line hard." 

There were men whom he had known in city clubs known 
only as wealthy men accustomed to taking their ease in 
comfortable places. There were men of the street with 
whom he had rubbed elbows and whom he had found 
measured high. And 'there were cowboys from the far 
West who loved nothing better than a good fight the 
more dangerous the better. 

They those men of all classes and kinds made up 
the famous Rough Riders. At first when Theodore Roose- 
velt was given a commission as colonel in command of those 
men, he refused, saying he preferred to be lieutenant colonel 
under his friend, Dr. Wood. Later, when Dr. Wood resigned 
to take command of a brigade, Roosevelt became colonel. 
And the regiment was off off to the steaming hot island of 
Cuba to help win freedom from oppression for a weak people. 

Of course Colonel Roosevelt gloried in such an adventure. 
Of course, his men being who and what they were gloried 
also. That is why Roosevelt could, and did, say to them: 

"Boys, if there is a man at home who would not 
be proud to change places with you, he is not 
worth his salt and he is not a true American." 

Then came that day when San Juan Hill had to be taken. 
To do that, a valley had to be crossed and a hill climbed 
while a merciless fire from the Spanish rained down on the 
oncoming troops. Taking his place at the head of his 

268 



DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

Rough Riders, Colonel Roosevelt charged across that 
valley, swept up that hill, and took San Juan. The capture 
of San Juan led to the surrender of Santiago and that 
surrender to the end of the war. 



AMERICANS have always been ready and more than ready 
to honor men of brave deeds. And so when the Rough 
Riders returned to America they found themselves famous. 
Colonel Roosevelt, with the laurels of war added to those 
he had won in civil life, not only found himself famous, 
but also found himself elected governor of the state of New 
York. That meant that he being Theodore Roosevelt 
had another stiff fight to wage. 

He began to wage it at once. For years, ever since the 
time of Martin Van Buren and even before that, New 
York had been largely controlled by men of great wealth, 
by large, powerful business concerns, and by the spoils 
system. Theodore Roosevelt liked nothing better than to 
get his chance to turn that whole situation upside down, 
to air it thoroughly, and to bring about equal justice to all 
the people of his state. 

Naturally, the rank and the file of his state liked what he 
did. Just as naturally the boss rule and the politicians who 
paid homage to that rule did not like it. So when Theodore 
Roosevelt was nominated for vice-president in 1900 and 
was thus removed from the head of New York's govern- 
ment, nothing could have pleased those leaders better. 
Perhaps who knows they may even have done much to 
see that he was nominated; for the vice-presidency did not 
offer any chance for a man to wield a big stick. 

On the other hand nothing could have displeased 
Governor Roosevelt more. He wanted a second term as 

269 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

chief executive of his own state. He needed it to finish 
what he had begun. He protested vigorously. But the 
campaign went right along with William McKMey running 
for a second term as president and Theodore Roosevelt 
running in second place. Of course they were elected. 
Then in September following their inauguration, came the 
assassination of President McKinley. 

And, suddenly, Theodore Roosevelt found himself 
president of the United States. Only forty-three, he was 
the youngest man up to that time to take the inaugural 
oath. Did his youth bother him? Not at all. What did 
years count to a man like him who could and did crowd 
every second of his day full of real living? What did any- 
thing count against the fact that work lay ahead to be 
done work worthy of his blood, his training, his ex- 
perience as a stalwart American citizen? 

Evidently he concluded that if he were to be president 
at all, he would be so up to the full limit permitted by the 
Constitution he meant to preserve. Anyone following what 
he had done in public service before his presidency would 
know, pretty generally, how he would use that power. 
Civil Service Reform was pushed actively and continuously. 
Many large, wealthy corporations came under government 
control. Waste in the country's natural resources was 
checked and conservation established in its place. Of 
course he met opposition. Of course he was accused of 
all sorts of inexcusable interference, and of stopping the 
progress of big business. But he went right on working; 
right on keeping faith with all classes of people. 

"The White House door, while I am here fhe 
saidj shall swing open as easily for the laboring 
man as for the capitalist, and no easier." 

270 



DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

and so It swung, equally open to both but just as he 
promised, not any more freely to one than to the other. 
Watching that door made the American people leam much 
about justice. 

They learned many other things quite as well, for all 
through the years he was accomplishing those ends, 
Theodore Roosevelt was busily occupied with very sig- 
nificant foreign affairs. 

Trouble arose in China, involving the representation 
there from European nations, Japan, and the United States. 
American troops were sent over to fight with the armies of 
those countries in protecting the rights of all. Those troops 
did their own proud share of the fighting. President Roose^ 
velt also interfered to bring peace between^ Russia and 
Japan, at war with each other in 1905. Insisting that it 
was not only to the Interest of those two &ations to make 
peace but to all "civilized mankind" as well, he kept up a 
series of conferences with the two countries until a treaty 
of peace was signed in die fall of that year. With that success 
to give him heart, he continued to argue against all war, 
and finally brought about the Second International Peace 
Congress at The Hague in 1907- 

Never had the United States found itself so closely 
allied with overseas nations before. Never had it left its 
proud western position to fight or to mingle with foreign 
nations for a common world good. Once having done so, 
however, the door had swung wide. So wide, in fact, it 
never could or would quite close again. Theodore Roosevelt 
had had the vision and had used the power to open that 
door. 

At the same time, back on his own continent, he had 
reached up to Alaska to settle with Great Britain the rights 
to seal fisheries and mining of gold and a long-disputed 

271 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

boundary question. He also reached dowii to Panama to 
protect that newly established republic and to receive in 
return for a fair financial sum the land and the right to 
begin the construction of the Panama Canal 

And while all of these new ventures were being carried 
on, down in Cuba, over in Hawaii and the Philippine 
Islands, the protecting arm of the United States government 
was gradually bringing peace and progress to the people 
in all of those remote lands. Such a policy was but natural 
to Theodore Roosevelt whose family for century upon 
century had kept as their motto: 

"He who has planted will care for." 

While all of this world-sweeping activity was going on, 
Theodore Roosevelt's first term had come to an end in 
1904, and he had been sent back for another four years 
by 343 electoral votes over 133 given his opponent. Accord- 
ing to his own often-expressed wish he was not even made a 
candidate at the end of that term. No doubt he felt he had 
given enough. 

Free^ therefore, to do what he most wanted to do, he 
was off for Africa two weeks after he left the White House. 
All of his life long he had longed to hunt big game, to 
collect specimens of plants, to live for weeks in a tropical 
jungle. And he took those weeks forty of them! When he 
came out he found the whole world just waiting to give 
him a welcome. He traveled through Egypt, Europe, and 
England and received the highest of honors everywhere. 
On his return home he was met with an enthusiasm that 
must have stirred his heart to its depths. 

That enthusiasm had to have something around which to * 
center. What should it be? What greater honor could they 
give this world-famous man than a third term as president 

272 



DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

of the United States? Political leaders seized upon the 
opportunity just as they had upon General Grant's return 
years before. Because many of his dearly priced as 

president had not carried through as he had hoped they 
would, Roosevelt permitted his name to be used. But 
like Grant he was defeated for nomination. 

Because he was a good fighter, Theodore Roosevelt 
could take defeat without letting it cripple him. He had 
served long and certainly had served with great honor. 
He could now go home to Sagamore Hill to rest and to go 
en with his writing. For somehow no man can say how 
he had found time to write throughout all of his hard 
working public life. There was his Winning of the West 
turned out in his most vigorous years. There wore his 
Letters to His Children full of a wonderful tenderness 
but also full of respect for the dignity due a child. And, of 
course, there were papers hundreds of them setting 
forth his ideas of government. 

This work, together with a trip to South America, 
filled his days full. Then the World War came. He offered 
to organise a regiment and lead it himself straight into 
No Man's Land. The United States Government could not 
accept the offer. It did accept, however, the service of his 
four sons. So while he remained at home speaking, writing, 
raising funds to support the war, he saw those sons sail, 
and later, heard of Quentin's death on the battlefield. He 
pnly set his jaw harder and plunged deeper into the work 
of helping to win what America had started to win* 

In. the midst of all that, he had to go under a surgeon's 
care. He never recovered his old strength again. A year 
later he went to sleep one January night, 1919, and never 
wakened. Today he rests on a low quiet hill not far from 
where his own home looks out over Long Island Sound. 

273 



III. WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT 



IT was Independence Day, 1901. What did that mean to the 
half-fearful, half-resentful Filipinos just waiting to hear 
what the United States, their new government, had pknned 
to do with them? What did it mean to William Howard 
Taft just arrived among them to carry out that govern* 
menf s plans? Was he thinking of another Independence 
Day in 1776 when a group of his own countrymen had 
dared declare the right of every human being to live, to be 
free, to be happy? Why else had he chosen that day to 
reassure the small brown people before him? Was that why 
he spoke so simply, so directly to them when he said: 

"My Fellow Countrymen, I am your friend. I 
have come to bring justice and freedom to you 
on behalf of a great nation. Trust me, help me, 
and you will find I am a man of my word." 

Did that island people come to trust him? Did he prove 
worthy of that trust? Did he make them gkd or sorry that 
the United States not Spain owned them? Who was 
this man, William Taft, that he could speak so exactly the 
right words to a people far removed from him in race, in 
country, in ways of thinking? 

For no people and leader could have been farther apart 
in their past lives than this representative of the United 
States government and the people of the Philippine Islands. 
To begin with, William Taft came from inland America 
from Middle West Ohio, a land as far removed from all 
foreign contacts as any land in the United States could be. 
To be sure, his father, a lawyer and a good one, had gone 
forth from Cincinnati where William was born in 1857, 

274 



DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

to serve as secretary of war and attorney general undc 
President Grant. Later, President Arthur had sent tha 
father as minister to Austria and Russia. Any son growin 
up in the home of Alphonso Taft would, therefore, hea 
much of national affairs and of old European court an< 
diplomatic life. 

The fact that the Taft family always considered an] 
government appointment a matter of high trust did, how 
ever, have much to do with the standards of public servia 
set up by a son of that family. Added to that, William, 
himself, meant to be a lawyer. What is more he meant tc 
be a good enough one to do honor to his father's profession. 
As the years passed, he began to wish he might some day 
win a high place for himself as a lawyer. Of course, the dream 
above all dreams for any such boy was to sit some far-off 
day on the bench of the United States Supreme Court. 
Could he ever hope to see that dream come true? 

That had to be left for the future to tell. In the mean- 
time, the boy went to the public schools of Cincinnati, 
Ohio, played good football, baseball, gave the other boys 
of his age a stiff bout in wrestling and boxing and gradu- 
ated at seventeen. Then he went to Yale to follow much 
the same sort of life and to graduate, in 1878, standing 
second in scholarship in his class. Two years later he had 
completed his law course at the University of Cincinnati 
and tied with one of his classmates for the first pri2 in 
scholarship. 



WILLIAM TAFT was then twenty-three. With his huge body 
radiant with health and the joy of just being alive, he was 
ready, if ever a young man was, to be off toward his own 
particular goal. Instead of setting up his own kw office, 

277 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

however, he started toward that goal by reporting the 
daily proceedings of Cincinnati's courts to the city papers. 
In that way he saw law from both angles that of the man 
who broke it and that of the judge and his associate whose 
business it was to deal out justice to the lawbreaker. 
Generous and human as he was, he certainly learned much 
of the meaning of real justice from those days. And he 
must also have reported what he learned in a clean-cut 
way that impressed the citizens of Hamilton County with 
his legal ability; for the next year they made him assistant 
prosecuting attorney. 

Before he had well begun the work of that office, he was 
sent to Washington on a mission for his father. While 
there he was unexpectedly made internal revenue collector. 
Although taking that position meant a delay in his profes- 
sional progress, it evidently offered enough in other ways 
to decide William Taft to accept it. That meant plunging 
deep into an entirely new field of work; meant conquering 
a bewildering amount of details. William Taft could and 
did make himself do all of that. But, although he handled 
the position satisfactorily, he could not make himself 
contented in it. He did not belong in a customs office. 
He belonged in law. And within a few months he resigned 
said goodbye to his $10,000-a-year salary and to Washing- 
ton life to go back to Cincinnati. 

Without wasting any more time, he immediately started 
to practice law with one of his father's former partners. 
Now, as it happened, the Cincinnati courts had long been 
in need of investigation. Everybody suspected corrupt 
dealings in them. Somebody must do something. William 
Taft, twenty-six, well trained in kw, just fresh from his 
experience as court reporter, eager to clean up anything 
affecting justice, very sound, very alive in body and mind, 

278 



DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

decided he would be that somebody. Whereupon he waded 
straight into the depths of the whole situation, turned the 
full blase of publicity on it, and then cleaned it up. 

That was a good fight and well won. So well won, in 
fact, that he was rewarded with the office of assistant 
county solicitor. With the work of that position and his 
own private practice, his fame spread so that by the time 
he was thirty, he was appointed judge of Cincinnati's 
superior court. William Taft was now well on his own way. 

Three years later he reached another signpost when 
President Harrison made him solicitor-general of the 
United States. After that he moved on to the place of 
United States judge for the Sixth Circuit. While going 
ahead with this last work, he was made professor and dean 
of the law department of the University of Cincinnati. 
Altogether he seemed to be firmly entrenched in the work 
he most wanted to do. 



THEN, right in the midst of those very active, very satisfying 
days, President McKinley thought of William Taft in 
connection with the Philippine Islands. Certainly those 
islands, just ceded by the old Spanish monarchy to the 
republic of the United States, needed strong, wise leader^ 
ship if ever any land needed it. Bewildered by the sudden 
appearance of Admiral Dewey in Manila Bay, bewildered 
still more by seeing the Spanish flag hauled down and the 
Stars and Stripes hoisted in its place, the citizens of those 
islands were in a tragic state of disorder, disease, and 
rebellion. 

Considering all of that and then considering William 
Taft, President McKinley decided he had found the man 
to handle the new possessions with understanding and 

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THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

justice. William Taft; was therefore made commander-in' 
chief of a military commission to sail to the Philippine 
Isknds and there to transform a sullen, resentful, fighting, 
people into a people of willing allegiance to the United 
States. 

If that fighting had been the only trouble the new com-' 
mission had had to face it might have been handled quickly 
and for all time. But when the Commander-in-Chief looked 
over his nation's new possessions, he saw back of the few 
leaders of that rebellion, thousands of helpless men and 
women, many of whom were savages, very few of whom 
could speak or understand English, all of whom were 
hungry, frightened and disease'ridden. What he did not 
see anywhere on the whole length and breadth of those 
islands was a single free school; a single court where 
justice was sure to be met; or any signs anywhere of a 
governing body that really knew how to govern. His 
splendid mind swept the whole situation at a glance. His 
whole great heart went out to those helpless people. 
Something besides discipline was needed. Because that was 
true, because those islanders needed a friend, William 
Taft became that friend. And he told them so that Fourth 
of July, 1901. 

Then he started to prove his friendship. Six hundred 
thousand little Filipinos were furnished with schools where 
they could learn English. Good roads were built through 
the islands. The water supply was purified and sewers were 
laid so that disease, so common everywhere, began to 
lessen. The people were taught that to save was one road 
to security. So they saved saved to deposit their small 
earnings in the postal saving banks set up for them every- 
where. To protect those savings to protect both property 
and people courts of real justice were also set up. And in 

280 



DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

order to make all of this permanently safe, Commander"in- 
Chief Taft began at once, and continued, to train native 
men of the new possessions in matters of modern 
government. 

With all of those things to think about and to set going, 
William Taft found time, also, to travel to Rome to confer 
with the Pope over the knds owned by the Catholic 
Church in the Philippine Islands. For years the natives of 
the islands and the priests of the various parishes had been 
quarreling ovef those lands. Now, Judge Taft represented 
the cause of his brown people so well to both the Pope 
and the United States government that the Catholic 
Church agreed to sell those knds to the United States; 
whereupon Congress voted $7,239,000 to buy them. 

In doing all this for the people ii had been sent out to 
help, William Taft had come to like them for themselves 
and to look upon many of them as men and women worthy 
of the friendship of any American man. When, therefore, 
he returned home and found his countrymen still blaming 
the Filipinos for many things over which the islanders had 
not yet gained control, he insisted that a group of thinking 
Americans go over to the islands with him to see for them' 
selves that what he claimed for his friends tbere was true. 
They went. What they found proved to them just what 
Judge Taft hoped it would prove that the brown men 
of those islands were really pkying more fair than many of 
the representatives of the United States Government 
stationed there. 



OF course, Theodore Roosevelt liked what William Taft 
did for the knd he had fought to win. How could he help 
but do so when he and his family like the Washington 

281 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

family always had assumed responsibility for new posses- 
sions as fast as they won them? It was but natural, then, 
that when Colonel Roosevelt became president, he should 
include William Taft in his cabinet as secretary of war. 
Which meant that Secretary Taft had to go down to Cuba 
to take control of affairs there when the Cuban government 
fell; that he had to go on to Panama to straighten out a 
tangle connected with the construction of the new canal; 
that he had even to travel to far-off Japan to calm the 
Japanese who had become alarmed for the safety of their 
people living along the Pacific coast of America. 

He did all of these things so very wisely that President 
Roosevelt once more took a long look at him and then 
concluded he was the safest man he knew to entrust with 
all of the many plans he had put under way in his administra^ 
tion. The American people also trusted William Taft. He 
had gone on his own way quietly never claiming credit 
for what he had done, never, for a second, boasting of what 
he could do, but with sensible, sympathetic friendliness 
working wherever he happened to be for people to have a 
fair, honest chance in life. He had earned, if ever any man 
had, the high honor the United States through the 
Republican party now proceeded .to give him. Did he, 
himself when he found himself president look off a bit 
wistfully toward the bench of the Supreme Court the 
goal he had set himself as the one in all the world he would 
rather reach? Even if he did, he was a sufficiently good 
American to be deeply gratified over being made the chief 
executive of his country. He could have had no doubt of 
that country's affection for him for he received a tremendous 
popular vote and two'thirds of those cast by the electors. 
But while the people joined to assure William Taft they 
wanted him for president, those people split in country and 

282 



DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

state elections. As a result, when he took his seat, he faced 
a lowered majority in his Republican support in Congress 
as well as a division within that majority because of the 
new Progressive element that had arisen in the ranks of 
the Republican party. Altogether the future did not 
promise smooth sailing for President Taft when he took 
up his new duties, March 4 5 1909. 

Since he had promised in his campaign to act quickly 
for the revision of tariff, he kept his promise by immediately 
calling a special session of Congress. The house and the 
Senate began, however, to wrangle over the Payne' Aldrich 
Tariff Bill presented for revision. So, what with amend' 
ments and settlement of various details, it was made so 
unsatisfactory to the President, that he had to intervene 
and actually compel a reduction of certain duties before 
he would sign it. In the end, he saw the scale lowered for 
import duties; he saw his Philippine friends helped by a 
free exchange with the United States; he saw a maximum 
and minimum tariff established which would help the 
American Government defend itself against foreign govern- 
ments discriminating against it in trade. 

That was not all that he or the people hoped to get 
done on the tariff question. But those things did bring 
about some improvement and gave President Taft time 
to set up his commission to study the whole trade situation 
at home and abroad. If that could be done the world would 
then have a basis on which to build up a fairer proportion 
of duties paid and received. He did get that commission 
appointed, but owing to the friction between political 
leaders in Congress, the good it might have accomplished 
never was. 

But while this matter of income from tariff interested 
him vitally, President Taft was even more interested in 

283 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

how that income should be spent. He, therefore, went 
deeply into the matter of a comprehensive government 
budget. He studied, he recommended, he urged the annual 
adoption of such a budget for the United States. While 
he was not to see anything of consequence done on the 
matter by the Congress of his time, many of the improve- 
ments which were made in kter years were due to the work 
of his administration. 

Although neither the tariff nor this budget question got 
as far as he hoped either might, he was able to accomplish 
much in connection with the enforcement of the Sherman 
Antitrust Law. Several of the most powerful trusts in the 
country were dissolved. The President's legal training 
stood him in good stead in connection with the prosecution 
of kw suits by government lawyers against other large 
corporations. That training and his sense of fair dealing 
also helped him to push the regulation of railroads through 
the Interstate Commerce Commission. 

A number of other recommendations were made by him 
for such things as the establishment of a postal savings- 
bank system; amendments to the Employers" 1 Liability 
Act; further protection of national resources; the setting 
up of a National Health Bureau; and certain adjustments 
concerning the issuing of injunctions by federal courts. 

His whole foreign policy was one of arbitration and 
diplomacy. He, himself, worked on the drawing up of 
certain treaties to be submitted to Canada, Great Britain, 
and France. In the main those treaties, as he completed 
them, were satisfactory to the foreign nations concerned. 
But by the time the American Congress finished putting 
in ckuses and striking out others, no one of those foreign 
governments would accept the result, William Taft, how- 
ever, was to Hve to see what he himself had prepared 

284 



DEFENDING WEAK NEIGHBORS 

used as a basis for negotiations that did go through. He 
was also to live to hear that his policies for settling world 
problems reached the most progressive and far-seeing point 
ever reached by any American man up to his time. 

But while he had the ability to deal tactfully with those 
far-reaching issues, he either did not have the same ability 
or perhaps the patience to use that ability in handling 
his party's office seekers or officeholders. Just because a 
man had worked to win success in a Republican election 
was no sign to William Taft that that man was fit to head 
some department in the Federal government. If that man 
were fit, well and good; if not, he hadn't a ghost of a chance 
with President Taft. What was true of those seeking office 
was equally true of those already holding office. Out went 
those who could not or did not give the best to that office. 
In came the man who could and would serve ably and fully. 

Quite naturally this attitude towards them and their 
friends did not increase his popularity with Republican 
leaders. -When his activities along this line swept out some 
of Theodore Roosevelt's appointees, even their friendship 
grew cool. This friction within his own party, together 
with the fact that, while his work was to count high in the 
future, the close of his four years as president showed very 
little actually completed prevented his having much of a 
chance for a second term. That chance grew even less when 
Theodore Roosevelt returned home from his African hunt 
loaded with foreign honors and surrounded with the 
glamour of all his past achievements. The Republican party 
split at the nominating convention over these two leaders 
and the issues for which they stood. President Taft, in 
the end, won the nomination, but because of that split, the 
Republican party lost the election and the Democrats won 
by electing Woodrow Wilson. 

285 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 



BUT although William Taft was a good Republican, he 
was an even better American citizen. Therefore, when the 
World War first began, he stood with President Wilson 
in opposing America's entrance into that war. Later, when 
the president had to yield to pressure at home and abroad 
and issue his call for American men to go overseas to the 
aid of the allies, ex-president Taft stood behind him like a 
stone wall Even after the World War was won, he still 
stood by him and worked with him to bring about a promise 
of world peace through the League of Nations. 

In the meantime, after leaving the White House, William 
Taft had gone back to his beloved law. He accepted a 
professorship at Yale; he was elected president of the 
American Bar Association; he served on many boards and 
committees where his legal advice was needed. And then 
when he was in the full swing of his old profession and 
feeling securely at home again in his own work President 
Harding chose him to be chief justice of the Supreme Court 
of the United States. William Taft's lifelong dream had, at 
last, come true. He had reached the one goal he, himself, 
had hoped he might some day reach. 

So it was that this man of the Middle West, this friend of 
all classes of people, this leader of high American standards 
walked out into the full expression of his own self. 
Wise, kindly, fair, dignified, he made a chief justice in 
whom the whole United States took great satisfaction. 
With his warm heart, with his irrepressible chuckle, he 
had long since made himself a friend of those people. There- 
fore, when he became very ill in the spring of 1930, Ameri- 
cans everywhere watched anxiously, sorrowfully, all 
through the weeks before his death finally came to grip them 
in a grief such as few great men have ever had shown them. 

286 



Chapter XI 

AND THOSE NOT SO WEAK 



I. WOODROW WILSON 



THE -world had never seemed more at peace with itself 
than it did that March 4, 1913. Certainly the United 
States never stretched out in more contented security than 
then. There it lay on its own Western continent safe- 
guarded to the east and the west by great oceans, and still 
further shut off by its own born-in-the-blood doctrine of 
strictly tending to its own affairs and letting the rest of 
the world tend to its own. 

Did Woodrow Wilson think particularly of that security 
as he raised his hand to swear his inaugural oath? Or did 
he take it just as a matter of course? Out beyond the crowd 
massed below him, out beyond the capital city, one proud 
state after another reached on and on, states with fair 
prosperous cities and richly productive farms, states where 
his people should be living in calm content if ever a people 
did. Did the new President's mind leap back to that first 
inaugural day that long-ago day in 1789 to give a 
thought to the straggling line of thirteen .thinly peopled 
states clinging close to the Atlantic coast as if they never 
could or would let go long enough to turn toward the 
great West? If he did give a thought to that day, did he 
wonder whether the states of his day ever could, ever 
would let go of their own present safety long enough to 
look up and out to the world beyond? And to risk some' 

287 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

thing of that safety for the sake of becoming world 
citi^ns? 

If ever a president thought of such possibilities, Woodrow 
Wilson ought to have done so. Back of him lay his own 
long years of studying the progress of other nations. 
Beyond that lay centuries of ancestry made up chiefly of 
scholars and ministers men and women with a stern 
practical sense of duty towards home and country but also 
men and women who dreamed fair dreams and set up far- 
shining goals. How could they do anything else when that 
ancestry was both Scotch and Irish? If the Scotch blood 
made Woodrow Wilson somewhat unyielding, somewhat 
grim in playing his game alone, the Irish side of him just 
as surely gave him his love and understanding of 
little children, his keen love of good fun, and the 
charm which brought him friends and made him a rare 
companion. 

His people had not been removed long enough from Scot- 
land and Ireland for President Wilson to have lost much 
of their native qualities. His own grandfather Wilson, a 
good, stout, Irish Presbyterian, had come to America in 
1807 to settle first in Philadelphia, and then to join the 
thousands of others traveling out to new western lands. 
That is why Woodrow Wilson's own father was born in 
Ohio and lived there to grow up and become a Presbyterian 
minister and to marry Janet Woodrow, the daughter of 
an equally stout Scotch Presbyterian another minister, 
in fact. Surely a stern background for any American man to 
look back upon and with which to keep faith. 

With all that sternness there must have been also a rare 
amount of tenderness and understanding, for throughout 
not only his early years, but throughout many of those 
heavy with responsibility, Woodrow Wilson turned again 

288 



AND THOSE NOT SO WEAK 

and again to his father, sure of sympathetic but very sound, 
safe, guidance. As for his mother, he, himself, wrote: 

"She was one of the most remarkable persons I 
have ever known. She was so reserved that only 
a few of her own household can have known how 
lovable she was, though every friend knew 
how steadfast and loyal she was. I thank God 
to have had such a mother." 

The family had left Ohio and were living in Staunton, 
Virginia, when Woodrow Wilson was born in the Presby- 
terian manse, December 28, 1856. He was christened 
Thomas Woodrow Wilson. That is why he was called 
Tommie all through his early years. Since his father accepted 
a call two years later to Augusta, Georgia, many of those 
years were spent in the far South when that whole section 
was marching off to battle and home again. 

Probably small Tommie Wilson had no idea what all 
the cheering and waving of flags meant in '61. But he was 
nine in "65 when the war ended. How much did he see of 
the grief, of the terrible hurt of proud men and women 
bowed by defeat? How much did he realize of all that as he 
peered out from the safe shelter of his own father's manse? 
Did what he saw and realise then rise up to face him years 
later when he, himself, had to decide whether his own 
loved land should take its share of responsibility in the 
World War? 

If those days did cause him to halt as a man, they certainly 
did not cast much of a shadow on his life as a boy. For some 
reason, he was allowed to do pretty much as he liked about 
studying until he was about nine. But, even so, he did very 
well. For one thing, he loved good stories and would listen 

291 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

intently for hours while his sisters read aloud from Dickens 
and Scott. Besides what he stowed away from those hours, 
there were the other tales he chose for himself when he 
learned to read not peacable ones, but ones of brave naval 
fights and of blood-thirsty pirates with moldy old chests 
of stolen treasures. He not only read those stories, but 
he soon began to spin tales of his own tales of fierce, 
reckless deeds, in which he always saw himself fighting as a 
brave leader. 

Since he was a very normal, very live boy, he also played 
long hours with the other town boys. He pitched, batted, 
made bases, quarreled and cheered long and loud with the 
neighborhood gang. He rode horseback along lovely south- 
ern roads. He debated with fiery heat in the Lightfoot 
Club. In short, he had a good time. 

But not all of this happened in Augusta, Georgia. Like 
most preachers of fair ability but moderate income, Joseph 
Wilson never could count on calling any one town home 
very long at a time. After Augusta, the Wilson family 
moved on to Columbia, South Carolina. From there, when 
he was seventeen, Tommie Wilson was sent to Davidson 
College, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. That 
was a good old Presbyterian school, worthy of the Wilson 
family. There the son of that family cut wood for his own 
fire, swept and scrubbed his own room, and carried water 
from the school pump for his bath. In that school, no boy 
had any standing at all unless he did all of those things, 
while also making a good record in his studies and being a 
good fellow in all college sports as well. Woodrow Wilson 
managed to keep his work up creditably, managed to make 
friends who stayed friends all of his life, and in addition, 
debated, wrote, and walked many miles while he thought 
out his own thoughts alone. 

292 



AND THOSE NOT SO WEAK 

But, in doing all of that, his health broke. He was forced 
to quit school for a time. His disappointment, however, 
was no doubt softened considerably by the fact that he was 
then free to go home and study under his father. By that 
time the family fortunes had led them on to live in Wilming' 
ton. North Carolina. There, between periods of study, 
young Tommie wandered for hours along the wharves, 
watching boats go in and out, hearing wonderful yarns 
from the sailors, and growing daily more sure that their 
life was the only life for him. But when he told his father 
what he had decided, his dreams and plans were blown 
skyward. A son of the Wilson-Woodrow families sail the 
seas for a living? How could he? No, his father had long 
ago made other plans. 

Those plans meant going to Princeton University for 
four straight years; meant that Tommie Wilson became 
Woodrow Wilson from the day he registered there; meant 
standing fairly well in his classes; meant leading in all 
debating and literary clubs; meant being student director 
of athletic sport. During all of those years, Woodrow 
Wilson was also gradually feeling his way towards the 
work he was later to find just suited to his ability. The one 
outstanding result of this rather groping, rather uncertain 
attempt to get on his feet was expressed in an article in the 
International Review which he prepared in his senior year. 
In that article, he attacked the procedure of the United 
States Congress and for the first time set forth some of the 
political principles which were later to give him a founda" 
tion from which to work. 

He graduated in 1879. He then studied law for two years 
at the University of Virginia and was admitted to the bar. 
He even began or tried to begin a practice back in his 
boyhood home at Augusta, Georgia. But there was the 

293 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

waste of time and money in long trials to outrage his 
Scotch thriftiness; there was the uncertainty of justice at 
the end of those trials to arouse his Irish sense of gallant, 
fair pky. He did not like any of it. So he gave it all up and 
entered Johns Hopkins University to get his doctor's 
degree in government and history. And to give proof that 
he had found what he could do best by writing clearly and 
delightfully his thesis on Congressional Government. 



WOODROW WILSON was twenty-nine when he completed 
that thesis. He had taken plenty of time to get ready for 
life. But when he was once ready he traveled with fair 
swiftness to a far goal. Did he have any glimpse of that 
goal? One wonders. If he did, he gave no sign. Instead he 
began teaching at Bryn Mawr College, went on to 
Wesleyan University, and then finally, back to his own old 
university of Princeton. It had taken him five years to 
cover that ground. All of those years had been spent on his 
chosen subjects of history and political economy. At 
Princeton he began as professor of jurisprudence and 
became known very quickly as a brilliant speaker and 
writer who could make history and political economy 
humanly interesting. In 1902, he was elected president of 
Princeton and at once set about trying to make university 
life more democratic and to establish higher standards in 
both the educational and social lives of students. 

By the time he had had twenty-five years of this ex- 
perience in teaching, lecturing, and writing on how govern- 
ments should be run if people were to be happy and pros- 
perous, Woodrow Wilson was a man very well known, 
for his sound judgment on matters of state. Where some 
politicians had come to much the same place through filling 

294 



AND THOSE NOT SO WEAK 

public office in town, county, and state, he had sat in the 
halls of Princeton looking back over long centuries of good 
rule and bad rule in countries the world over. He had 
discovered that if people were bound down too closely 
by either kings or political parties, those people most 
certainly would, in time, arise and overthrow their rulers. 
On the other hand, he had also seen people live on con' 
tentedly hundreds of years just because they were allowed 
to have a share in saying what should be done by their 
government for their own homes, their own lands, their 
own chance to live as they wanted to live. In short, he 
had found that when all was said and done the people of a 
land made the power of that knd. 

And New Jersey listening to the president of Princeton 
University deliver his brilliant opinions decided to give 
him his chance to prove the practical value of those opinions. 
So they offered him the nomination for governor of the 
state. He took it and walked forth from Princeton straight 
into the hot give-and-take of a political campaign. Instead 
of the quiet deference of a classroom, instead of the respect- 
ful listening of a lecture hall, he met the heckling of political 
opponents, the man-to-man matching of wits with shrewd, 
seasoned state leaders. Evidently Woodrow Wilson was 
more than equal to all that he met; for he won the election. 
Evidently, also, he liked the experience for he never went 
back to his old quiet life again. 

Once governor of New Jersey, he took hold of that State's 
affairs in a manner that left no doubt in anybody^ mind 
that he knew what he wanted to do and meant to do it. 
To begin with he seised upon the reform of corrupt political 
practices already begun in the state and pushed that reform 
vigorously. He saw that working men were protected by a 
liability act. He safeguarded public utilities by a commission. 

295 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

He insisted on a clean-up in city governments. And he 
dealt a blow at trusts through what is known as the Seven 
Sisters & series of bills striking clean-cut in defense of the 
public against powerful corporations. 

Successful in all of these attempts, Woodrow Wilson 
turned his ear from New Jersey towards the American 
nation. What did he hear? Nothing more or less than he 
had heard in New Jersey. And what he had heard in New 
Jersey was exactly what he had heard in listening down 
through the ages to all people and all lands which was 
exactly what Washington, Jefferson, the Adamses and all 
the rest had heard when they decided to base the Constitu' 
tion of the United States Government on the rights of 
people to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." 



THEREFORE, when the National Democratic Party decided 
to nominate him for president in 1912, Woodrow Wilson 
saw no reason why he should not permit his name to be 
used, which meant that he stepped out into the national 
limelight just at the time Theodore Roosevelt, Progressive, 
was upsetting plans to reelect William Howard Taft, 
regukr Republican. That was a distinguished three to 
hold the attention of the American people the Rough 
Rider with his magnificent big stick, the genial judge, and 
the university professor. The first, as everybody knows, 
dropped out in the nominating hall. That left the judge 
and the professor to begin the campaign. They fought it 
through like the two upstanding leaders they were and the 
United States cheered as they fought. In the end the 
Princeton University man won. 

Won to stand looking out from the Capitol steps over a 
land so busy building up peaceful prosperity that it scarcely 

296 



AND THOSE NOT SO WEAK 

stopped long enough to take stock of the new sort of man 
taking his oath as their chief executive. But within the 
next month they were stopping stopping to lift their 
heads in surprise to see that very properly dressed, very 
properly mannered executive stride out from the White 
House to the Capitol to read his own message to the special 
session of Congress he had assembled. What they saw that 
day they were to see through all the rest of the days that 
Woodrow Wilson stood at the head of the government. 
There was to be no more doubt about his being president 
than there had been about his being governor. Whenever 
he wanted a thing well done he did it himself. 

To start with, he, like all other democratic presidents 
before him, began to reduce the high tariff favored by the 
previous Republican administrations. Fortunately for the 
fame of his leadership this attempt succeeded when 
the Underwood Tariff Bill was passed in October of his first 
year. The fact that this bill met real opposition from both 
working men and powerful business concerns spoke all 
the more loudly for President Wilson's ability to put 
through his recommendations. 

In December of the same year, he again was successful 
in having the House and Senate pass the Federal Reserve 
Bill which by making funds available when unusual needs 
arose, and by a currency that grew less or greater to meet 
^necessity, reduced the danger of financial panic. A little 
later, he saw the Federal Trade Commission and the 
Clayton Antitrust Act ready for enforcement. Through 
those laws he hoped to aid laboring men and women. 

When it came to his foreign policies, President Wilson 
insisted that the United States government could afford to 
be generous. To that end he worked to get the Philippine 
Islands ready to govern themselves. He saw the protection 

297 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

of Haiti established, and a military government set up in 
Santo Domingo. To pacify Japan he tried to get California 
to reduce its legislation against Japanese immigration. To 
help straighten out a tangle in Nicaraguan trade, United 
States officials were ordered to take over the handling of 
customs there. To adjust complaints down in the Panama 
Canal region, he recommended the repeal of the kw freeing 
American coast trade from toll along the Canal. But when 
he went so far in his generosity as to urge Congress to 
apologise to Colombia, and to pay that government $25,- 
000,000 for the seizure of Panama Congress objected. 

While he was succeeding in getting all of those foreign 
relations on a more friendly basis, Mexico was giving the 
Wilson administration plenty of cause for anxiety. War 
civil war was devastating that whole country from border 
to border. Many citizens of the United States felt that the 
Federal government should interfere. On the other hand, 
wealthy business corporations with large interests in 
Mexico bitterly opposed any such interference. Between 
the two opposing demands, President Wilson set up his 
policy of "watchful waiting 11 ; and maintained it until the 
Mexicans attacked the United States navy and crossed the 
border in a raid on American territory. Then he ordered 
the navy to seise Vera Cruz; and sent troops down to patrol 
and defend the border. Even in the face of these military 
proceedings, an American-Mexican commission met, con' 
ferred, and managed to set up a sufficient show of peace 
to warrant the withdrawal of American troops from the 
border. 

Duriag the months this Mexican trouble had been wear- 
ing away American patience, the World War was raging in 
Europe and threatening to involve the United States in 
spite of her policy of "Hands off. 11 Of course, Woodrow 

298 



AND THOSE NOT SO WEAK 

Wilson, with his hatred of wax, stood like a rock to maintain 
that policy. German submarines threatened American life 
and trade and he wrote notes of protest in answer. The 
Lusitania was sunk to send terror, grief, and desperate 
rage sweeping over the land and still the President worked 
on trying to guide the United States past the calamity 
threatening to destroy all of Central Europe. 



IN the midst of all this shouting for, and shouting against 
war, President Wilson's first administration drew to a 
close. Evidently there were more who hoped for peace than 
wanted war, for in 1916,. he was reelected president on the 
campaign slogan that "He has kept us out of war/" 1 

Once more he found himself looking forth from the 
Capitol steps as he swore to protect and defend the Con- 
stitution to his "best ability." Did he contrast the peace 
of March 4, 1913 with the bitter unrest and dread of March 
4, 1917? Did he look ahead wondering whether he could 
possibly keep his campaign pledge? He started to do so 
most valiantly. But when the German Ambassador handed 
him a note containing the statement that the German 
government was about to resume her savage submarine 
warfare what could he do except order Congress to make 
a declaration of war? 

That declaration rang around the world. Once it was 
made, no matter how hard they tried, no matter how loud 
they protested, Americans could never again quite return 
to their old-time secure aloofness. But once the decision 
was made those same Americans marched out to take their 
own magnificent part in the war. Fortunately, President 
Wilson realised that while he might know mudi about 
statesmanship, he knew nothing whatever about how to 

299 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

conduct a war. He, therefore, was wise enough to agree to 
the organization of a military staff to decide all military 
questions. That staff wanted General John J. Pershing 
appointed commandepin-chief of the American army in 
France. President Wilson made that appointment made 
it to the never-ending glory and honor of the whole Ameri- 
can army. 

Since this war, although barbarous in its fierce devasta- 
tion of life and property, was still a modern war, the 
President of the United States worked just as swiftly to 
keep under control the want, the sickness, the destructive 
forces attending it as he did to win it. He brought together 
experts in handling problems of food, fuel, shelter, and 
disease. Politics were never allowed to enter into his 
choice of those experts. Democrat, Republican, Progressive 
each was given a chance to use his "best ability" along with 
the president. 

Even so, even while meeting the demands of war, 
Woodrow Wilson never for a single hour stopped hoping 
and praying for peace, peace not for America alone, but 
a peace so broad and so everlasting that the whole world 
might swing out into its sunlight. But because the blood 
of the stern, practical Scotch ran in his veins quite as 
strongly as the blood of the dream-loving Irish, he worked 
every second that he hoped and prayed. The result of that 
work was first announced through his famous fourteen 
points in January, 1918. Later, when the longed-for end 
came to fighting, those points were placed on that never" 
to-be-forgotten table at Versailles as a basis on which to 
build a world peace. 

And when that time came, Woodrow Wilson was sitting 
right there to see that what he had laid down should be 
followed. To be sure all America had gasped when he sailed 

300 



AND THOSE NOT SO WEAK 

for France. No American president had ever before crossed 
either ocean while in office. But what had that to do with 
the affairs in hand? For that matter, no American president 
had ever before sent an army overseas to fight for the 
rights of far-distant neighbors. Surely if that army had 
helped win the victory, the president could and should be 
present at Versailles to make that victory count; not for a 
year, not for a century but forever if that could be 
done. 

Even if America had looked askance at his going, France 
certainly received Woodrow Wilson with enough wild 
cheering to warm his heart. But, something more than 
cheering awaited the American President at Versailles. 
For two long months the representatives gathered there 
tore those fourteen points to tatters, put them together 
again, wore themselves out with arguments and the world 
with waiting. 

There were days in those two months when men held 
their breath for fear the whole dream would go on the rocks. 
The allies insisted that Germany and Austria-Hungary 
pay for all wrongs done. Others insisted that stronger 
nations should protect and assist the weaker nations. 
Greedy nations demanded more than their share. But 
Woodrow Wilson^s fourteen points finally won. And with 
the winning, the League of Nations also came into being, 
for the same fourteen points went into the Covenant of that 
League that went into the treaty of peace. 

Having done their work, the representatives at Versailles 
hurried off to get the approval of their various governments. 
But when Woodrow Wilson reached home did he, the man 
who had, in truth, brought forth the whole golden fabric 
of the League did he find approval? From some yes. 
But from many he met indifference, from others bitter 

301 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

blame, and from political leaders & stiffly unyielding, 
organised opposition. Fighting, however, every inch of the 
way, he finally managed, by permitting certain changes, to 
get the Covenant accepted. He then returned to Paris to 
submit those changes to the conference there. But in turn 
for that conference's approval of the American changes, he 
had to concede certain things to European leaders. 

Again he came home. Again he met opposition. By that 
time there was a strong Republican majority in Congress 
which balked him at every turn. No doubt if he had used 
more tact, if he had been willing to yield some points, he 
might have won others. But there was his Scotch-Irish 
blood again. There were the long, long years of building 
up his vision of what made for peace and good government. 
There was his fierce struggle against entering the World 
War. There was his word that if America did enter it was 
to win a war to end all war. He believed that nothing short 
of the Covenant of the League "of Nations would make 
that word safe. 

So, with his never-failing faith in the American people, 
he determined to go straight out into their midst and talk 
the whole matter over with them. That was in the summer 
of 1919. He was very tired. He was heart sick. Perhaps he 
was also very much humiliated to have his own people 
refuse to support what most of the rest of the world had 
accepted. Perhaps all of those things weighed him down. 
At any rate, the undertaking proved too much for him. 
While in the West his health broke completely. He was 
forced to give up and return to Washington. 

There he gathered himself together for one more supreme 
effort. If he could only have gained a Democratic majority 
in the following election who knows what he still might 
have done? But, instead, the American people spoke through 

302 



AND THOSE NOT SO WEAK 

an overwhelming Republican victory. All of his life, 
Woodrow Wilson had believed one should heed when those 
people spoke. After that election, no one ever heard him 
talk again publicly of the League of Nations. 

At the close of his second administration he retired to 
his own home in Washington. There he lived until 1924, 
broken, disappointed, apart from the world. Did he ever 
look up and out toward distant Geneva to take heart over 
what he saw being done there? Did he ever think that, 
perhaps, his own American people had gone much farther 
than even they knew because he had dreamed his dream of 
world peace? 



303 



Chapter XII 



AT THE WORLD S CROSS ROADS 



1. WARREN G. HARDING 



ALL of his life Warren Gamaliel Harding had worked with 
a group. It was only natural, then, that when he faced 
the American people that March 4, 1921, he should say: 

"If I felt that there is to be sole responsibility 
in the executive for the America of tomorrow 
I should shrink from the burden. But fhe went 
onf there are a hundred millions with common 
concern and shared responsibility answerable 
to God and country. The Republic summons 
them to their duty/' 

Any American should have liked that challenge. By it 
they were certainly recognised as free and equal in all that 
tended to advance their own welfare. There was to be, 
apparently, no standing apart from them by this new 
president; no striking out alone by him on new untrodden 
paths. To a people sent reeling in fear, in grief, in loss by 
the World War, there must have been something very 
reassuring in having their leader step down into their 
midst. Did he really mean to stand shoulder to shoulder 
with his people in winning back their old peace of mind, 
their old days of prosperous ease? Well, he was the same 
man who also had said that the only way he knew to 
straighten out any difference was by "a spirit of neighborly 

304 



AT THE WORLD S CROSS ROADS 

goodwill." That sounded as if whatever was won would be 
won and shared together. 

The truth of the matter is that Warren Harding or any 
other man growing up in a middle-si^d Olaio town in the 
eighteen hundreds could not have gone very far unless he had 
played his game with his neighbors. That way of living 
had proved to be a good one away back when the Hardings 
had first crossed the Alleghenies from Pennsylvania into 
Ohio. And the Pennsylvania Hardings had, in turn, 
learned it from old Scotch ancestors who had worked with 
their neighbors to win food and shelter from the stem 
New England wilderness, who had gone out to fight with 
those same neighbors in the American Revolution, and with 
them had also struck south to take up new knds and to 
build new cabins. 

Warren Harding^s own grandfather had been among those 
who had kter left the Pennsylvania settlement to take the 
western trail. That trail had ended for him in a homestead 
cabin out in Morrow County, Ohio. There, near the little 
settlement of Blooming Grove later known as the town of 
Corsica he had cleared his own fields, ploughed, and then 
planted them. But when it came to harvesting, when it 
came to building the new bam, he and all the other men, 
far and wide, traded days of labor. He and all the others, 
also, came together to build their roads, to improve their 
town. Of course, they had to do that or lose in the frontier 
fight. But they got much more out of those days than just 
the development of a new land. They learned, for tfne thing, 
who were the strong men and women among them strong 
in mind and body and heart. 

George Harding, Warren's father, and Warren, himself, 
were born in that same homestead cabin the latter in 
1865. So neither was very far away from those first frontier 

307 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

days. George Harding cleared more acres, farmed them, and 
between times read medicine with a physician in Blooming 
Grove. Gradually, he came to spend more time studying 
than he did plowing and planting, until finally he came to 
be known as Dr. Harding to the whole countryside. 

la the meantime he had married Phoebe Elizabeth Dicker- 
son, a strongly built, Holland Dutch, splendid pioneer 
woman, deeply religious, thrifty, hard-working, who loved 
her home and took great delight in her flowers. There was 
nothing that small Warren Harding loved better than to 
go exploring in the thick woods, all by himself, and come 
back with his hands full of Johnny-jump-ups, adder tongues, 
spring beauties, for his mother. He kept right on bringing 
her flowers through all the years following. To be sure, 
kter, they had to be gorgeous hot-house roses and fragrant 
violets. But that made no difference they were brought 
just the same. 

Hunting wild flowers for his mother, however, was by no 
means young Warren Harding's only work in life. There 
were the cows to take to the pasture and bring home again. 
There were never-ending stumps to be cleared from the 
fields. There were the spring planting, the summer hoeing, 
the fall cutting of corn. By the time that corn was stacked 
and the fields looked as if a tribe of Indians had set up their 
tepees under the November sun, school had begun. 

That school was first in Corsica and kter in Caledonia. 
It was in this second town that Warren Harding got his 
first whiff of the paste pot of a newspaper office. He was 
only twelve then but he was a very busy, very important 
young printer's devil who took to the routine of getting 
out the paper as a duck does to water. 

With all of those days of going to school, of work in the 
office, of chores on the farm, of diving deeper and staying 

308 



AT THE WORLD S CROSS ROADS 

under longer in Whetstone Creek, Warren Harding kept 
growing on and up until by the time he was fourteen he was 
over six feet tall. That was the year he entered Ohio Central 
College at Iberia. Evidently he was not at all embarrassed 
over his height. Long4egged, long-armed, awkward, he 
walked right out into the center of life in that college. 
The course of study there was about the same as in any 
present-day high school. Young Harding carried It satis- 
factorily enough to graduate three years later with a degree 
of Bachelor of Science. Part of that time he was editor of the 
college paper an experience he ever after claimed helped 
him greatly with his own paper. Also during those years, 
he lustily tooted the alto horn in the college band. 

That band playing was another college experience he 
turned to good account. Gradually he learned to play 
every instrument except the slide trombone and E-flat 
cornet. But long before he had accomplished that, he had 
begun to believe that his band was the best band in that 
part of the country. Therefore, when a band contest 
was announced for Findlay, Ohio, he decided the time 
had come to prove his belief to the public. They he and 
his fellow musicians would go to Findlay. There they 
would win a prize. But when he approached the rest of 
the members, he found some of them lacking in faith. 
Nothing daunted, he went right on making his plans. 
He had no money, but he evidently was considered "good 
pay," for a town merchant endorsed his note covering 
a loan to finance the venture. Boosting up the courage of 
this one and that one, paying one member a full wage for a 
day, paying a doctor to look after the sick wife of another 
Warren Harding finally got his band off to Findlay. 

And they won a prise. To be sure it was the third and 
lowest one offered but what of that? All the members of 

309 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

little faith had left the concert hall by the time that pri?e 
was announced. Only three were left the bass drum, the 
clarinet, and the alto horn. According to the program, 
the winning bands were to march triumphantly through 
the streets of Findlay. And, of course, to play while they 
marched. The three of the third prize band may have been a 
bit dashed by the prospect, but, if so, they made no sign. 
Instead, they boldly took their place in the procession. 
No drum ever rumbled more loudly; no clarinet ever 
shrilled more bravely; certainly no alto horn ever tooted 
more triumphantly. And no youths were ever received 
with a more enthusiastic welcome than those of that band 
when they marched back to Iberia. 

If Warren Harding had just studied, run the paper, and 
boosted the college band, his day would have been comfort* 
ably busy. But money was not plentiful enough in the 
Harding family for this son to go his three years to Ohio Cen- 
tral without "working his way" or largely doing so. He 
cut corn, sold brooms, helped to grade roads, and, together 
with his chum, painted barns painted them red 
a glorious red to rise up vividly out of that quiet Ohio 
land. 

Then he had taught in a country school for a year. By 
then he had lost his awkwardness. Handsome, young, keenly 
awake to all life, he was most popular in the district. And 
he never worked harder in all of his life so he said later. 
No doubt, therefore, he was glad to move on with his 
people to Marion, Ohio, two years after leaving college. 
There he found another band and, of course, joined it, 
to play, not an alto, but a tenor horn. Later he tried a 
B'flat cornet before the leader asked him whether he 
thought he could manage the "helican bass." Of course 
he could. And, of course, he did, looking every inch equal 

310 



AT THE WORLD S CROSS ROADS 

to the huge bellowing brass slung over his head to rest 
securely on his broad, handsome shoulders. 



WARREN HARDING had not only attached himself to the 
Marion band, but to the Marion Mirror as well in his first 
days in the new town. There he began work as a reporter 
on one dollar a week with the promise of two dollars 
kter if^he could prove himself worthy of that much. Before 
he had time to reach that amount, however, the presiden- 
tial campaign of 1884 came along with Grover Cleveland, 
Democrat, and James G. Elaine, Republican, fighting a 
fight to the finish. Warren Harding, a staunch, nineteen' 
year-old Republican, son of a Republican father, joined a 
Elaine club, marched in Elaine processions and wore, with 
other club members, the gray plug, symbol of loyal party 
allegiance. All of which was very well, until he, one day 
appeared at the Mirror office still wearing that plug. Now 
the Mirror was as emphatic for Cleveland as young Harding 
was for Elaine. That gray hat was the signal for strong 
action. As a result, the fiery young Republican found 
himself out of that office once and for all. 

What next? Well, there was the Marion Star. Somebody 
had bought that paper not long before and had not been 
able to make it a financial success. Warren Harding's 
eyes fell upon it just as it was about to give up the ghost. 
He wanted that paper. He wanted that paper even if it were 
on the rocks. More than all that he meant to have it. So 
he approached his boyhood friend, Jack Warwick, with 
a plan. His friend liked the plan. Together they raked 
and scraped up three hundred dollars nearly all of it 
borrowed, with Dr. Harding giving a good-natured seal" 
rity. And the paper was theirs. 

311 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

At last, Warren Harding had his feet pknted where they 
belonged. Nothing else mattered. That paper was his 
dearest possession then and clear on up to within a few 
years before his death. He learned everything there was 
to learn about running it. He gathered news. He wrote 
that news into stories. He set type. He made up the paper. 
He repaired all breaks in the machinery along the way. And, 
while working long hours every day and equally long hours 
many a night, he built up a certain newspaper creed 
a work-a-day religion which expressed his ideals of what 
a good paper should stand for. 

fc 'Remember fhe said to his office force J there 
are two sides to every question. Get them." 

Then again: 

tc lf it can possibly be avoided fhe cautioned 
his menf never bring ignominy to an inno- 
cent man or child in telling of the misdeed 
or misfortune of a relative."" 

And finally: 

fcC I want this paper fhe saidf to be so con- 
ducted that it can go into any home without 
destroying the innocence of children." 

While working to make his paper live up to his own 
creed, he never forgot the men working with him. He 
could always step over from his position as editor and 
proprietor to get the viewpoint of the laboring man in 
his plant. Because he could do that, he produced a co- 
operative scheme by which his employees shared profits 
in addition to receiving their regular wages for each day's 
work. He, himself, joined the Labor Union. 

312 



AT THE WORLD S CROSS ROADS 

Is it any wonder, Warren Harding with such a creed, 
with such a friendly relationship in his everyday work, 
with a wife for he had married Florence Kling, capable 
and tactful, whose practical sense made a perfect balance 
to his enthusiasm is it any wonder that he said: 

"I would rather be a newspaper publisher than 
anything else in the world/" 

Is it any wonder, either, that with all of that to help him 
make a success of the 'Marion Star that, when he was 
president of the United States, he could and did sell that 
paper for $535,000? 

Between that purchase ai\d that sale, many, many other 
affairs besides editing the 'Marion Star had entered 
into the life of Warren Harding. There was his town of 
Marion, for example, to boost, much as he had boosted 
the Iberia band years before. Of course he was out in the 
midst of every group working for that town's improvement. 
Because he knew how to write and speak so that common 
people understood him easily, because his plans were 
generally for those people's own best interest, his plans 
usually carried. 

No man with his newspaper ability, no man with his 
natural power to work with people, no man growing up, 
as he had, to work for the Republican party could or 
would keep out of the limelight of political life. His own 
particular part of that life began under the encouragement 
of the Ohio senator, Joseph B. Foraker. With that friend's 
backing, he ran for the Ohio State Senate in 1900. He was 
elected; then reelected. At the end of his second term he 
ran for lieutenant governor of Ohio on the ticket with 
Myron T. Herrick as governor. The ticket won. And 
Warren Harding began a close friendship with Governor 

313 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

Herrick which grew steadily with the years that followed. 
Later, when that lieutenant governor became president, 
he honored his old chief by sending him as Ambassador 
Herrick to France. 

In 1910 Warren Harding met his first political defeat 
when he ran for governor of his state. Although that 
defeat was probably due to quarrels in his own party, 
he was so disappointed that he considered withdrawing 
from all politics. But the attraction of the game was too 
strong and he was out again, in 1912, making the opening 
speech for President Taft's renomination. Two years later, 
he defeated his good friend, Joseph Foraker for the United 
States Senate. And at the same time kept that friendship 
through the campaign and the victory that followed. 

His election as United States senator took him to Wash- 
ington just as the World War was filling every man's mind 
with anxiety over what was to be America's part in the 
struggle. He was to stay right on in the Senate throughout 
all of the years of that war, and still on until he resigned 
to become president. He, therefore, was present for the 
declaration of war, and later, to support President Wilson's 
war policies. In addition, while in the Senate, he favored 
the Prohibition Amendment, the antistrike clause of the 
Cummings Railway Bill, the return of the railways to 
their owners a year after the war closed, and the 
freeing of American trade from tolls down in the Panama 
Canal. 

When the armistice came he stood with other Re- 
publican senators bitterly against the League of Nations, 
particularly against that section which would force the 
United States to go to any part of the world to take part 
in any war whether the United States had anything at 
stake or not, in that war. Outside of that section, he 

314 



AT THE WORLD S CROSS ROADS 

was just generally opposed to the League because he 
thought he saw in it the possibility of a growing power that 
would, in time, destroy or decrease the individual power 
of the United States. 

But he, with his group, did see that something had 
to be done in connection with new world relations growing 
out of America's part in the war. In his keynote speech at 
the 1916 Republican National Convention, he expressed 
himself as convinced that the United States could no longer 
shut herself off from the rest of the world. If he discarded 
the League, President Wilson's plans which had been 
accepted by the representatives of world powers gathered 
at Versailles what did he propose to take its place? 

tc An international arbitration and a world 
court for justifiable disputes fhe claimed} 
appeals to all who think justice is sustained in 
reason rather than in armed disputes. 

"But fhe went on| it does not require 
super-government to effect them nor surrender 
of nationality and independence of action to 
sanction them." 



ALTOGETHER, there was never any mistake about where 
Warren G. Harding stood while he was in the Senate. 
Not that he ever was outstanding in the expression of 
his views. But his own party group always knew exactly 
where he was on a question and it could depend on him 
not to change his mind. In short, he was safe. Therefore, 
when the Republican National Convention convened in 
Chicago in the summer of 1920 to wear itself out in the 
heat of those days trying to settle on a candidate. Warren 

315 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

Harding rode in on the tenth ballot as the nominee for 
president with Calvin Coolidge coming along as vice- 
president. 

There were many more outstanding men than he in 
in public life. There were others at the convention whom 
the nation knew much better. In fact, outside of Ohio, outside 
of the Washington political circle, he was really known to 
very few. But his fellow senators had found he played their 
game according to the rules kid down by their leader. 
Perhaps, as president, he could be counted on to do the 
same for his friends in the Senate. 

Instead of going out, up and down the land, to wage 
his campaign fight, Warren Harding stayed at home. Why 
not? There was his enormous front porch, comfortably cool. 
There was his own town of Marion to give him a feeling 
of solid security. So he stayed right there and let people 
come to him. And, as in the campaign of McKinley, they 
came, but they came in much larger numbers. He made 
speeches and, in many of them, criticised what he claimed 
was Woodrow Wilson's too great use of his presidential 
power, especially in connection with the League of Nations. 
By so doing, he calmed the fears of those who dreaded 
anything that would turn the United States from an 
individual nation, secure in its distance from other nations, 
to one of a group, active in the center of world affairs. To 
those who were not sure the United States should not 
leave behind its old time self'centered content to advance 
into that center, Warren Harding promised to arrange 
some sort of association with world powers that would 
still leave the Americans uncontrolled by European power. 
In short, he promised that if he were elected, he would 
work to restore the United States to its old time normal, 
prosperous, peaceful, life. 

316 



AT THE WORLD S CROSS ROADS 

Since many of the people of the United States longed 
for that return more than for any other one thing they 
voted for Warren G. Harding. And he was elected presi- 
dent. Elected by a majority that showed how weary the 
people were of war. How eager many were to keep America 
safe for Americans. Elected to face a world whose money 
market had been hopelessly upset by the demands of 
war; to face a greatly increased debt with a treasury 
not receiving enough revenue to meet the running 
expenses of the government. Elected, also, to do something 
to keep his promise concerning that governments interna- 
tional relations. 

Did he think all of that? Is that why he said that March 
4, 1921: 

* e l have taken the solemn oath of office on 
that passage of holy writ wherein it is asked 
'What doth the Lord require but to do justly 
and to love mercy and walk humbly with my 
God? 1 This I plight to God and my country," 

Back of him stood the cabinet of his choice: Charles E. 
Hughes, secretary of state; Herbert Hoover, secretary of 
commerce; Andrew W. Mellon, secretary of the treasury. 
Those three he selected because of their outstanding 
ability to meet the high demands he was to make of them. 
But many of the other members of that body were selected 
because the President felt under obligation to pay off old 
political debts. 

Since the problem most needing immediate attention 
was that of the treasury, President Harding began at once 
to reduce all expenditures; to revise taxation; to urge 
the adoption of an adequate national budget plan. On the 
question of tariff, he recommended the passing of an 

317 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

gency tariff bill, while working towards the establishment 
of a permanent policy with a sliding world scale of duties 
to meet circumstances as they arose. 

Second to the financial demands stood those concerning 
foreign relations. Several minor differences were settled 
promptly by quick action. For example, Secretary Hughes, 
by a decisive voice, ended threats of war between Panama 
and Costa Rica; the Japanese trying to claim rights to set up 
a mandate over Yap were refused those rights; Soviet 
Russia's request for trade relations with the United States 
was also refused. 

But, while all of those problems had to be met, the one 
of major interest to America and the world was that 
connected with the League of Nations and the Versailles 
treaty of peace. To end the quarrel with Germany, a 
separate peace treaty was signed. To meet his campaign 
promises to do something to further world peace and yet 
not enter the League, President Harding called the Inter- 
national Conference on Armament Limitation. He, himself, 
personally sent invitations to the foreign powers to come 
to Washington. To the great surprise of many Americans 
every invitation was accepted. The conference first came 
together on Armistice Day, November 11, 1921. About 
all that it accomplished in the days that followed was to 
establish a feeling of good will. If there was any one thing 
Warren Harding could do it was that, with his natural 
general friendliness, and his Hfe4ong way of being a good 
neighbor wherever he was. 

Perhaps that was why the conference was the proudest 
achievement of President Harding's administration. When 
the following Congress assembled, trouble began to pile 
up for him. There were people in the United States 
many of them who wanted the government to take its 

318 



AT THE WORLD S CROSS ROADS 

place in the League and share fully in whatever advantages 
or disadvantages there might be in such a world gathering. 
There were others who as usual objected to the 
administration's tariff policy. And there were hosts of 
honest people who were outraged by revektions of the 
dishonest handling of public resources among President 
Harding's own appointees at Washington. The country 
pretty generally trusted the President himself. But when 
the suspicions against his friends were found to be true, 
people quite naturally blamed him for not protecting him- 
self and the nation against those friends. The criticism 
grew widespread and sharp. The Republican party's 
majority grew correspondingly less in Congress. Splits 
came in that greatly decreased majority. 

Something had to be done. If he could come close to 
his people, Warren Harding believed he could win them 
back. So he left Washington to travel through the West. 
He not only went to the coast but on to Alaska. He never 
was more vividly alive to everything and everybody. He 
never spoke with more simple, direct sincerity. 

4C I am thinking fhe said once| of the law 
of the Golden Rule, a statute from the Man of 
Naweth, who brought new peace and new hope 
to mankind and proclaimed service to men the 
highest tribute to God. 1 ' 

On his way back down the western coast, he grew 
very tired. At Vancouver he fell ill. Even so, he insisted on 
greeting people. 

tc We do rise to heights, at times fhe told 
them one day} when we look for good rather 
than evil in others and give consideration to 
the views of all" 

319 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

And that was the last time he spoke publicly. Greatly 
wearied by his efforts to keep up with his schedule he 
was attacked by pneumonia. Even then he resisted the 
disease and grew better. But just as the nation 
thought he was out of danger, his tired heart stopped 
beating. That was August 2, 1923. No citizen of the 
United States living in that time will ever forget the long, 
long watch Warren Harding's fellow countrymen kept while 
his funeral train traveled from the Pacific coast back to 
Washington. Whatever blame had been his, whatever 
bitterness of people or party all was forgotten in those 
still August days. At Washington the nation did him honor 
with all the great pomp and ceremony due to a presi- 
dent. But Judge Hughes spoke of him to Congress in a 
way his fellow politicians liked better when he said: 

"Nothing human was alien to him." 

Then, at last, after all had been done by his government 
leaders that could be done, Warren Harding was taken 
back to Marion, Ohio, back to sleep among his own neigh- 
bors, among "just plain folks" whom he knew and liked so 
well. 



320 



II. CALVIN COOLIDGE 



IT was August 3, 1923. Far out across the continent, Warren 
Harding"s funeral train was just getting under way for 
the return east. In New York, the afternoon rush hour was 
beginning. Towering skyscrapers near one of the huge 
railway stations had emptied their thousands of men and 
women into streets already a tangle of struggling trucks 
and taxis. Suddenly, a shrill whistle cut through the hot 
noisy mass. A short, stocky-built traffic policeman whirled 
first one way, then another, as he shot a white-gloved hand 
in the air with an imperative gesture "to stop." 

The street cleared as if by magic. The shoving crowd 
stood suddenly, unbelievably still. A motorcycle roared 
out of the great yawning entrance to the railway station. 
Another and another followed until they were speeding in 
formation on up the street and around the corner two blocks 
away. Following them came a great soft-running automobile 
on the rear seat of which sat a pale, stern-faced man, staring 
straight ahead. A startled gasp of "Coolidge" ran through 
the crowd. Here and there men turned to look at each other 
as if deeply stirred. Then the traffic policeman relaxed and 
signaled "Go ahead." Once more New York's rush hour was 
off in full swing. 

Only a little over twelve hours before the message of 
Warren Harding's death had flashed out from San Francisco, 
California, to reach Plymouth, Vermont, in the quiet hours 
of the night. Twelve hours and yet in that time, a man had 
stepped out of the vice-presidency into the presidency, had 
sped down from the hills of Vermont, had crossed Manhat' 
tan, and had akeady had time to be gripped with the respon- 
sibility of being chief executive for over 122,600,000 people. 

321 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

But for the Coolidge family there had been quite time 
enough. Why not? Life for that family had always been 
stripped bare of outward expressions of deep feeling. That 
left the way clear for action even in the face of a great 
calamity. Whatever tall, well-seasoned, white-haired John 
Coolidge had felt when he received that night message, 
he had given no sign except for a trembling in his voice as he 
called his son. That slight show of emotion, however, had 
been quite enough to warn Calvin Coolidge that his father 
had news of tremendous importance. 

When he heard that news, did he, himself, waste any 
time in gathering himself together to face what was ahead? 
Not the son of John Coolidge. Not the citizen of Plymouth, 
Vermont. He dressed carefully, swiftly. Then, before going 
forth to meet the greatest responsibility of his life just 
as centuries of Coolidge3 had done before him he took 
time to pray to pray to the God of his people that he 
might meet that responsibility as befitted the American 
called to carry it. 

After that he had taken time to wire the wife of Warren 
Harding his deep sympathy for her and to express to her 
his own grief over the loss of the chief whom he had 
loyally supported during sixteen months of national service. 
Next, he had stopped to write by the light of that famous 
old kerosene lamp a message of reassurance to the shocked 
nation. All of that done he stotid up, quietly, simply, to 
have his own father, as the village justice of the peace, 
administer the oath of the presidency. 

About him were all the old familiar things of his life. 
There was the black walnut furniture brought proudly 
from Boston when he was a little child. There was his 
mother's Bible near-by. There was his father just as he 
had always been in all of his son's life steadily wise and 

322 



AT THE WORLD'S CROSS ROADS 

sure. Nothing had changed even although those few solemn 
words had brought him the highest honor the American 
people had to bestow. 

What was true of the inside of the old Coolidge home 
was even more true of the village outside. There the few 
white houses, the church, the schoolhouse, the blacksmith 
shop, the combination post office, store, and cottage which 
was his own and his sister AbigaiFs birthplace there 
they all stood safely secure and as always. And so did the 
several clusters of farm buildings with their fields stretching 
back to the hills rising like a green wall to shut in the peace 
of Plymouth, Vermont, and to shut out the anxious world 
beyond. 

And yet, nobody knowing that village and the people 
from which Calvin Coolidge had sprung could ever doubt 
for a moment that either he or his father was keenly alive 
to all they were living through in the quiet hours of that 
night. But why talk about it? Everybody there understood. 
In fact, there had never been a time when those within that 
house and those without in the village had not understood 
and accepted as a matter of course that each had a share of 
service to neighbor, to town, to state, to country. If Calvin 
Coolidge was walking out to take that share as president 
of the United States, he would find the same fundamental 
principles working well there that his father, John Coolidge, 
had found worked well in Plymouth, Vermont. They, his 
own kin, his neighbors, were proud of the honor that had 
come to him yes. Let him look to it that he proved worthy 
of that pride. 



PERHAPS the man Calvin Coolidge felt the responsibility 
of living up to that standard quite as keenly as he felt the 

325 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

responsibility facing him down at the Capitol After all, 
was one very much more difficult than the other? Not to a 
Coolidge. An obligation was an obligation. And they 
the Coolidges kept their obligations. Vermont had tried 
them out along that line for around one hundred and fifty 
years and had never found them wanting. There had been 
Captain John Coolidge, the first of this name, to give the 
family a fine start in the valley by coming up from Massa- 
chusetts to make his home on the land stretching back from 
the old military road toward the Green Mountains. He had 
served in the American Revolution. After that he was to 
serve in helping to build up a nation. He began by adding land 
to his first tract until he had enough to leave a farm to each 
of his five sons at his death. While doing that he took his 
own part in seeing that the laws of his new land were 
understood and followed in the community where he lived. 
He did his own part in building up that community. Log 
cabins gave place to frame houses. A flour mill, a sawmill, 
a store appeared. In short, life in Plymouth, Vermont, was 
running very well by the time Captain John went to rest. 
And it was running just about the same when Calvin 
Coolidge was born there in that five-room cottage back of 
the store on Independence Day, 1872. His mother's family 
the Moors lived right across the road in a large old house 
built for a hotel. That mother, as Calvin Coolidge says, 
bore the name of two empresses Victoria Josephine. And 
surely no empress ever received more chivalrous allegiance, 
more devotion, than she received from her smallson. Perhaps 
the fact that she was very frail, almost an invalid for years, 
had much to do with the sort of devotion he felt for her. 
But even if she were fragile in body, she was quite able to 
give her two children very wonderful care. Gentle and 
lovely, with her brown hair showing glints of gold, and her 

326 



AT THE WORLD S CROSS ROADS 

face lighting up over the beauty of her hill country, she 
was also sternly unyielding in her^ training of what was 
wrong and what was right. Is it any wonder that when she 
died she left her small twelve-year old son with a certain 
loneliness which was to stay on through the years always? 

Not that he was a son who ever wanted for love or care. 
By no means. All about him were his own kindred. Besides 
his mother "s people just a few steps away, there were his 
Grandfather and Grandmother Coolidge living less than a 
hundred rods from his home. They had peacocks strutting 
about the farmyard. They had horses to ride to ride stand-' 
ing up behind his grandfather before that grandfather 
died when Calvin was six. And there was the Bible to read 
even in those early years during his grandfather's kst 
illness. Also that Bible to study carefully because his grand' 
mother was superintendent of the Sunday school held in 
the vilkge church. His pride might have made him learn 
his lesson for that school, but if it had not his love for 
his grandmother would have done so. Didn't she give hours 
to him when he was a little fellow, even when her hands 
were busy spinning the yarn for his winter stockings and 
while weaving the linen for table and beds in his father "'s 
home? 

That father had bought a new home just across the 
street from the old one when his son was only a few years 
old. In that new home the house was larger with a main 
part, an ell, and, later, a porch and a house barn. There 
were two acres of ground belonging to it, with fine old 
maples near-by and a blacksmith shop not far off with its 
biasing forge and dark shadows always waiting, full of 
interest to any boy. 

But, above aH those many people and things to fill the 
days of small Calvin Coolidge, there was his father to watch, 

327 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

to follow, to listen to. No man in all Vermont had more irons 
in the fire than John Coolidge. When his son had been 
barely two months old, he the father had gone off to 
Montpelier to serve in the State legislature. He had been 
reelected twice. In the meantime, there was the Plymouth 
store to manage. Fortunately, he had ended his work in the 
legislature when his father died leaving him to run the old 
farm. About the same time he took over that responsibility, 
he sold the store to his wife's brother. But even by reducing 
the demands on his time that much, he still had his days 
full to overflowing. Besides the usual routine of sugar 
making, plowing, planting, harvesting, and getting ready 
for winter, John Coolidge was so skilled with his hands 
that he did the most difficult repair work on the farm 
machinery, and also the work of a carpenter in keeping the 
farm buildings in good shape. To all of these private affairs, 
he added that of his public service as moderator or selectman 
in the town meetings, as deputy sheriff, as justice of the 
peace, and always as a notary public. 

With such a father, with such generations back of him, 
Calvin Coolidge could not do much else but grow up with a 
healthy respect for hard work honestly done. By the time 
he was twelve, he, in his gingham shirt, blue cotton over" 
alls, and barefeet, could turn a clean-cut, straight furrow, 
guiding the plow with one hand and driving the sturdy 
old oxen with the other. Then he planted what he had 
ploughed; or helped to do so. He raked hay. He picked 
apples. He chopped and corded wood. He tapped maple 
trees in the spring and listened eagerly for the drip of the 
sap into the bucket beneath the spill. 

And in between chopping the wood and tapping the 
maples, he went to school with some two do2n other boys 
and girls in the little stone schoolhouse. There he learned 

328 



AT THE WORLD S CROSS ROADS 

just what the rest learned to read, to write, to figure 
clear through the arithmetic and back again, and quite a 
little United States history. 

If anybody thinks, however, that even all this work could 
crowd out fun in life for the people of Plymouth, Vermont, 
he is much mistaken. There were the spelling and husking 
bees; there were the singing schools, county fairs, and once 
in a great while, a red-letter day when the whole family 
drove off at early dawn to go to a circus some place not too 
far away. Besides all of these irregular happenings, there 
were the regular holidays Thanksgiving, Christmas, and, 
of course, the Fourth of July, with its extra thrill for the 
Coolidge family since it was also the birthday of the son of 
the family. 



CALVIN COOLIDGE did not have many years to enjoy all of 
these things before he went off to Bkck River Academy 
where his father and mother had gone before him. In fact, 
he was only thirteen when that happened. To be sure, that 
academy was only about a do^en miles distant, but a dosen 
miles in a Vermont winter was something for which to 
get ready in those days. Once there, Calvin Coolidge studied 
about as the other boys and girls did. Sometimes he worked 
on Saturdays. Sometimes he went home over the week-end, 
walking the twelve miles now and then to get there, but 
more often riding with his father who was rarely so busy 
he could not come for him. Finally, he graduated with his 
class of nine. In addition to the facts from his textbooks, he 
had stowed away two things: first, his experience with 
factory men on the Saturdays he had stood working next 
to them; second, a deep, wondering awe for the wisdom 
and vision contained in the Constitution of the United States. 

329 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

After graduating from the Academy, it had been planned 
that he should go straight on to Amherst College the next 
fall. He even reached there, but on the way he was taken 
with a severe cold and had to return home. There he read 
Sir Walter Scott's swinging narrative poems full of their 
border adventures, studied for a time at his old academy, 
and at St. Johnsbury before he finally entered Amherst in 
the fell of 1891. For some reason, Calvin Coolidge found his 
first two college years uphill work. It took considerable 
encouragement from his father to get him over them, but 
once over, he got his own stride to march through the last 
two quite easily and to come out at the end, graduating 
with high honors. 

During those years what else had happened? Well, not much 
of anything to attract attention to the student from 
Plymouth, Vermont. In fact, there was nothing he wanted less 
than attention. But a few of the strongest men of the college 
began to watch Calvin Coolidge. They saw that he could 
work hard and that he did. They saw that he got far when he 
worked. They heard him say only a few things but when he 
said them they counted. They found that behind his rather 
stern face, there lurked a keen human sense of life all about 
him. So those men decided he was a good man to be Grove 
Orator at commencement time. And he was. In addition 
to winning that honor, he won a prise offered by the Sons 
of the Revolution for the best college essay written on the 
subject, "Principles Fought for in the War of the American 
Revolution." Calvin Coolidge knew those principles. Of 
course he could write well concerning them. 

For those principles were much the same, fundamentally, 
that had always formed the basis of John Coolidge's ded' 
sion in Plymouth town meetings. They were also the same 
on which he settled many of the neighborhood differences 

330 



AT THE WORLD S CROSS ROADS 

over property rights. After all he had always found a close 
connection between national and individual rights. Justice 
and fair dealing were needed in both. Calvin Coolidge had 
not listened to his father and neighbors discussing all of 
that without coming to believe much as they did. 

It was but natural then that he should turn his attention 
to the study of law when he left Amherst. And it is not 
much wonder that his father was in sympathy with his 
son even although such a choice of Hfe work meant that a 
Coolidge was now to leave the farm knd of his fathers. 
It- was not easy for John Coolidge to have his son do that. 
It was not easy for the son to go. But, still, it was easier then 
than it might have been years before, for John Coolidge 
had married again married a splendid woman of the 
countryside whose keen mind and warm sympathy had 
done much to make Calvin Coolidge's homecomings happy 
ones all through his Amherst days. What he knew about 
her made it easier for him to leave his father. 

To leave him and go down to Northampton, Massa- 
chusetts, to study law in an office there. That study took 
only twenty months to earn him admission to the bar, and 
to land him in his own office, with the determination to 
make his profession support him the very first year. Up 
until that time his father had paid all of his expenses. To be 
sure those expenses had been unbelievably low. What is 
more, whatever the sum had been set by the school 
one could be very certain that Calvin Coolidge had cut it 
down to the last penny, and once having cut it, never 
overdrew, never ran in debt. 

Of course, Calvin Coolidge had earned money during 
those years earned it at odd jobs during the school term 
and often on the farm during vacations. But John Coolidge 
would allow none of that to be spent. It went into a bank 

331 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

immediately and it stayed there to give his son a feeling of 
financial security even in a limited fashion. Yes, John 
Goolidge had always stood ready to make life for his son as 
easy in money matters as he could. He still stood proudly 
ready to continue doing so when his son completed his 
three years'* law course in two. But Calvin Coolidge had 
his jaw set. He was now to be "on his own" if ever he was. 
So after a few months he cut loose financially from his 
father. He was then twenty-five. It was not easy going 
that first year. And not always in the years that followed. 
But he made both ends meet and gradually built up a 
practice that made things easier financially and made him a 
reputation professionally. 



IN the meantime, he had almost at once begun to take an 
interest in Northampton town politics. Why shouldn't he? 
All of the Coolidge men had had that interest in Plymouth, 
Vermont. Not only the men had had that interest, but his 
own Grandmother Coolidge had watched, like a hawk, over 
the interests of the village school, and, then, had voted 
promptly and regularly to see that those interests were 
developed for the great good of the oncoming generations. 
Therefore, only two years after beginning his kw practice, 
Calvin Coolidge was akeady deeply enough involved in his 
new town's politics to be elected a councilman of 
Northampton. 

Once started, he kept right on going. His first county 
office was clerk of the courts. His first state one was his 
membership in the House of Legislature. After that, he was 
called back to Northampton to be mayor for two terms. 
Then came the State Senate with three years of service as 
speaker of that body before he was elected three successive 

332 



AT THE WORLD'S CROSS ROADS 

terms for lieutenant governor, and then for governor of 
Massachusetts in 1919. 

It had taken him about twenty years after opening his 
law office to build up a substantial practice and to reach the 
highest office in his state. How had he done it? Well, he 
had good common sense in handling public as well as private 
business. He used it. He believed in economy of time, effort, 
and money. He practiced what he believed. He talked 
very little but when he did talk he said what he had to 
say briefly, simply, forcibly. Then he quit. Why say more? 
But he went right along clearing up all waste. He was the 
first Massachusetts governor to arrange and submit an 
executive budget for consideration. He cut the number of 
state officers. He did his own work easily and effectively. 

And then in the midst of all this came the Boston police 
riot. That trouble began in early September, 1919, when the 
Boston Police Commissioner refused to permit the city 
police to ally themselves with the American Federation of 
Labor. Whereupon, over half of the force left their posts of 
duty. That happened in the afternoon. By the next morning 
a riot was on. The mayor of the city stepped in and ordered 
all the state guards stationed there to come to the rescue. 
In addition, he asked the Governor for extra troops. The 
Governor ordered three regiments to go to Boston at once. 
The next day a general strike was threatened. It was time 
for a vigorous show of authority. Governor Coolidge made 
it by calling out the entire state militia. Order was restored. 
There was no particular confusion. There was no shouting. 
But there was speed, action, and a breath-taking force. 

That done, Governor Coolidge took his place behind the 
Police Commissioner where he stood like a rock of support 
when the Commissioner refused to re-admit to service the 
policemen who had deserted their posts. There was a great 

333 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

outcry over that refusal. Many people were in sufficient 
sympathy with the men to want them returned. But 
Calvin CooHdge ended the protest when he said: 

"There is no right to strike against public 
safety by anybody, anywhere, at any time/ 1 

When somebody told him he would offend organised 
labor by his opposition, and that such offense would 
probably mean defeat at his next election, the Governor 
answered: 

"It does not matter." 

Of course not. How could it to a man who had lived as he 
had close to the hills and with a hills people who had no 
trouble whatever in telling what was right and what was 
wrong and in following what they knew. After all, the 
American people like such straightforward dealing. 
Certainly Massachusetts liked it in Calvin CooKdge, 
for he was reelected two months later by a large majority. 

And the country at large showed its approval by begin" 
ning to think and talk of that Vermont man as excellent 
timber for the coming presidential campaign. Then came 
that Republican National Convention where the deadlock 
was broken by nominating Warren Gamaliel Harding for 
president. At the same time, Calvin Coolidge went in 
easily for vice-president. 

Once elected vice-president, the man from Plymouth, 
Vermont, fitted into his chair as if he had never been any- 
where else. With a nice respect for the position that was 
his, he made no effort to extend his influence or power 
beyond it. With a fine sense of loyalty, he quietly, effec' 
tively, supported the President. That President invited 

334 



AT THE WORLD'S CROSS ROADS 

him to meet with the cabinet. He did so again to fit in but 
also again to keep silent. 

For two years he presided over the Senate and went his 
own way as vice-president before that summer of 1923 
rolled around to take President Harding west and take him 
back to his own Vermont hills. There he was to have only a 
short time to listen to the homely wisdom and good common 
sense of his townspeople, to tramp out over the land of the 
Coolidge family with his father, and to stand still watching 
the sunsets his mother had loved while the fresh, crisp 
mountain air blew the political cobwebs out of his mind and 
heart. One is gkd that he had even a short time for those 
reassuring things before that wire came ripping its way 
through the night, bringing the message of the President's 
death. 



BUT even with the reserve of rest and peace brought him 
by his Vermont days, anyone standing on the edge of 
New York^s rush hour crowd to see Calvin Coolidge ride 
swiftly by on his way that late August afternoon, knew 
that he had been shaken as few men ever are shaken. Was 
that the reason h.e kept so very still through the succeeding 
weeks? Or was it because he had no intention of stepping 
until he saw where and why? Whatever the reason, he did 
not really break his silence officially until in the following 
December when he made his first very characteristic 
inaugural speech. In that speech he set down without 
any fine words or high'flung phrases exactly what he 
approved and what he disapproved. By the time he was 
through anyone could tell that he meant to maintain the 
tariff without frequent revision; to disapprove of the 
soldiers" bonus and of widespread government relief for 

335 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

formers; to stand for peaceful cooperation with foreign 
powers and support of the world court; but to stand against 
the United States" becoming a member of the League of 
Nations. 

The common people of the United States listened to him 
and they understood what he said. They began to have 
confidence in him because of his plain, everyday way of 
reasoning and acting. All of which was good to know but 
none of which was to help him much at first in affairs 
at Washington. There, the split in the Republican support 
which had begun under President Harding grew wider. 
Bills vetoed by President Coolidge were passed over that 
veto. Others he favored received barely enough votes to 
make them secure. The Teapot Dome scandals which had 
reared their ugly" heads during the time of President 
Harding heaved high until they threatened to destroy all 
force of the administration for good and to bring shame to 
the whole Republican party. In the midst of all that Calvin 
Coolidge stood like one of his own Vermont rocks. He 
refused to act on any rumor. He appointed a special counsel 
to investigate the corrupt situation. He judged no man 
until that counsel presented the full results of its investiga- 
tion. When those results were finally in hand, President 
Coolidge acted according to the evidence he had. And on 
nothing else. 

At kst that difficult winter passed. Spring came bringing 
with it the 1924 nominating conventions. It was then 
that the voice of the people of the United States rang out 
with no uncertain force. Congress had heckled, had opposed, 
had occupied months with political bickering. But that was 
all over at least for a time and the plain folk of the land 
told those congressmen to look to it or they the congress- 
menwould lose the votes that sent them to Washington, 

336 



AT THE WORLD S CROSS ROADS 

And political leaders listened. Many of them would have 
done so without the warning; for many of them had come, 
as those people had, to believe in Calvin Coolidge. So he 
was nominated. 

Through that summer and fall he stayed on in Wash- 
ington going about his business of running the Government, 
The few speeches he did make were made only to emphasise 
his belief in economy, efficiency, and in the World Court. 
In November, he was elected with a popular vote of 
15,700,000. 

Now that he was president by the undeniable vote of 
his people, did Calvin Coolidge show any particular 
gratification over his triumph? Not at all What did he 
think about? Who knows? But when the time came on 
March 4, 1925, for him to take his inaugural oath, he 
opened the Bible to place his hand on the Gospel of St. 
John the gospel which had rung in his heart ever since his 
Grandfather Coolidge had read it to him up in the old 
Vermont farmhouse long, long years before. So far he had 
kept faith. He meant still to do so or as far as he had wisdom 
to see. 

The foundation of that wisdom had been laid also in those 
long-ago days of his boyhood. It was then he had learned 
that taxes had to be paid; but that often in the paying men 
and women had to sacrifice much. It was then he had learned 
that debt could burden a man so as to hinder his freedom 
and progress. As president, therefore, he worked to reduce 
income taxes; to refund other taxes whenever the treasury 
surplus permitted; to reduce government running expenses; 
and, as fast as possible, to lower the national debt. He 
believed that the way to bring relief to the farmers was 
through some form of cooperative marketing. He believed 
that the only sure way to handle such disasters as the 

337 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

Mississippi flood was to turn them over to experts who 
understood how to determine the cost, not only of relief 
but of preventing such calamities in the future. (Fortunately 
for him and the country he had such experts conveniently 
near amoung the members of his own cabinet. He now 
sought them out daily.) There was Secretary Mellon to 
advise him concerning the treasury. There was Herbert 
Hoover on all matters of commerce as well as on others 
concerning waste in time, money, or human effort. 

And there was Secretary Kellogg to sustain his policies 
in foreign rektions. A strong hand, a wise head, and a large 
supply of tact were needed in the West Indies, in Panama, 
in Nicaragua and Mexico. They all were evidently avail- 
able, for affairs in all of those sections ran along safely. In 
connection with overseas relations, efforts were made to 
enter the World Court. The Senate even voted in January, 
1926, to take part in that court but in doing so they made 
so many reservations foreign powers would not consider 
the plan. The next year a conference for the limitation of 
armaments was held at Geneva with the United States 
taking part. Not much was accomplished. But when Secre- 
tary Kellogg and M. Briand worked out, by themselves, a 
pkn to outlaw war, all of the great world powers ^includ- 
ing the United States accepted it as well as many of the 
smaller ones. 

Then with some progress made toward securing world 
peace with tremendous progress towards unparalleled 
prosperity going on at home, with everything pointing 
towards a renomination of Calvin Coolidge as 
president, he startled the nation by sending forth the 
message: 

"I do not choose to run for president in 1928." 

338 



That was all. Of course political leaders and many other 
plain people could not believe any man really meant such a 
statement to be final. But any one knowing the CooEdge 
family, or Plymouth, Vermont, knew nothing further need 
be said. Calvin Coolidge had spoken. 

And anyone who knew him would know that he would 
go from Washington back among his old friends. He chose 
Northampton, Massachusetts. He chose his old law office 
there. And for a time he chose the old home where he and 
his wife had gone to live years before, where his two sons 
had been born, and where he had lived very simply and very 
happily. Later, he moved to a larger, lovelier home where 
even a greater quiet and peace could be possible. From there 
he still travels north to Plymouth, Vermont. John Coolidge 
his father is no longer there. But there are old neighbors 
who remember him. There is the farm willed him for life 
by his Grandfather Coolidge. And there are the green hills 
standing serene and still against the New England sky. 



339 



HI. HERBERT HOOVER 



ROBERT FROST, the New England poet, once said, 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I 

I too\ the one less traveled by, 

And that has made all the difference.* 

For over ten years the United States had been standing at 
the point where "two roads diverged." Should she keep to 
the one she had traveled for over a century and a quarter 
the road of George Washington's policy of neutrality in 
world affairs? Or should she strike off down the "one less 
traveled by" the one taking her on into the heart of those 
affairs? 

Then on March 4, 1929, Herbert Clark Hoover took the 
president's chair. No man had ever sat in that high place of 
vantage who could see farther down those two roads than 
he. No man had come to that pkce who had traveled more 
miles both in his own and in foreign lands. No man had 
brought with him a keener, more practical understanding of 
different races, different nationalities, different classes of 
men than he. And, although not primarily a politician, no 
American man had ever become president who had a more 
intimate knowledge of what it meant to work diplomatically 
with foreign governments. 

And he came from a family of travelers of travelers 
whose goal was always well set up before they started on 
any journey. There were those Hoovers of France, who, 
because of religious persecution, had crossed over into 
Holland. There they heard of a new land across the sea 

*From Mountain Interval, "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Froat, by permission 
of Henry Holt and Company. 

340 



AT THE WORLD^S CROSS ROADS 

where there seemed to be no limit, to the acres a man might 
possess and where he could worship God as he pleased. 
So they sailed away to that land in 1738. Because they did 
not like the very formal manner of worship in Maryland 
where they first stopped, they went on through the forests 
until they found a colony of their own Quaker people 
down in North Carolina. Then came stories of a country 
of still fairer promise beyond the mountains to the north. 
They again struck the trail, a trail that was to lead them 
first to Ohio and then, finally, on in a long line of prairie 
schooners over the Middle West plains to Iowa. 

There in the little new town of West Branch, Jesse 
Hoover and his wife, Hulda Minthorn, the parents of 
Herbert Hoover, set up their home in a small, rather 
dreary, house. The Minthorns were also Quakers 
Quakers from a good old Connecticut stock of scholarly 
people who had sailed from Engknd before the Hoovers 
had left Holland. Hulda, the young wife of Jesse Hoover, 
who had had some university training, was a^ woman of 
vivid personality and a speaker with real power to attract 
and hold her audience. 

Jesse Hoover was the West Branch blacksmith, a good 
one, who was an ever-present help to the other settlers in 
mending their farm machinery, as well as in selling them new 
implements. Nobody could even start living out on that 
prairie knd without a plow. Once that plow handle was 
under the guiding hand of the farmer, he could and did turn 
great stretches of tall waving prairie grass and brilliantly 
blooming prairie flowers ruthlessly over into furrows of 
rich black loam, glistening under the sun as far as the eye 
could see. Those furrows meant a steady prosperity both 
to the farmer and Jesse Hoover so that the latter gave up the 
bkcksmith shop, increased his stock of farm machinery 

343 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

and added a pump factory to his business. He also moved 
his family into a better house with large maple trees shading 
it from the broiling hot sun of summer, and doing their 
best to shield it from the howling blizaards of winter. 

Then when Herbert Hoover was only six, a tree fell on 
his father, pinning him down so that he lay helpless for 
hours and died of exposure afterwards. Even though just 
well started in his new home, he had saved enough to leave 
a small amount of property to his family. Hulda Hoover 
meant to save every cent of that amount for the education 
of her three children. But because she could speak so well, 
because she was such a sturdy Quaker, and because the 
new land needed preachers she became one. She traveled 
far and wide over the almost trackless prairies. She became 
famous all about her home as a woman of great spiritual 
power. But there was no salary connected with any such 
work in those days. To be sure she received a free-will 
offering but money was not plentiful enough on that 
Iowa frontier to make those offerings large. Just how life 
would have gone for her and her family if she had lived, 
nobody can tell, but a little over four years after her husband 
had died, she followed him. 

Herbert Hoover was then only between ten and eleven. 
Fortunately for him and his brother and sister, there were 
plenty of Hoover and Minthorn relatives living in West 
Branch and the country near-by. Still more fortunately, 
they were the sort of people who took care of their own, so 
the three children were not only given homes, but were 
given good ones. Herbert, himself, went to live with his 
uncle, Allan Hoover, on a farm near the town. There he 
helped with the chores, hoed in the garden, and, of course, 
planted corn. How that corn grew grew until its slender 
stalks reared themselves above, the heads of the tall Iowa 

344 



AT THE WORLD S CROSS ROADS 

farmer. How it stretched out in great fields of wind-tossed 
green in summer, in golden phalanxes under the November 
sky stretched on and on until the rim of the sky shut down 
to the ground. 

In between times of tending that corn, there were plenty 
of days to go coasting on a home-made sled, to set traps for 
rabbits, to swim in the muddy old swimming hole, or to 
sit still very still on the bank of a stream holding tight 
to the willow pole with its piece of string dangling a hook 
in the clear water. That hook, which cost a penny, held a 
worm which the small fisherman had dug by himself and had 
spit on religiously. If luck were his, that worm caught a 
fish. If not oh well, there was still the warm lasy sunshine 
and the stillness. Next to those hours, Herbert Hoover 
liked best, perhaps, the ones he spent talking with the 
village dentist who was also a geologist with a fascinating 
collection of specimens, and who, apparently, liked the boy^s 
wondering questions well enough to keep right on answering 
them. 

Then there were his memories of that visit to his uncle 
who was Indian Commissioner out in Indian Territory. 
He had been only eight at the time. But' had he ever 
forgotten how he had frozen in his tracks when he ran 
around a corner straight into the Indian chief all dressed 
up in war paint and feathers? He had not. Neither had he 
forgotten how the Indian boys had taught him to scout 
down a trail, how to catch prairie chickens and cook those 
chickens over an open fire with the smoke from the burning 
wood and the sibling game filling the clean, crisp air. 



WAS it any wonder then that when Dr. John Minthom 
decided to move on out to Newberg, Oregon, that Herbert 

345 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

Hoover went along? Being a Hoover himself, he was, of 
course, always ready to go any place, any time, if something 
worth while lay at the end of the journey. There was usually 
something worth while for him at the end of John Min- 
thorn's journeys. This time his uncle became the first 
superintendent of a small Quaker College in Newberg. 
Of course, Herbert Hoover attended that college. Outside 
of doing that and sleeping in a rather bleak room in the 
college, he came to know the five hundred people in the 
town, and also to know all of their few books which he read 
and thumbed over from cover to cover. 

He did not have much time to do all that before his uncle 
moved on to Salem with his young nephew going along, 
driving a horse and cow all the way. Of course, that meant 
the boy could not travel swiftly, but what of that? There 
was that new western land to wonder about to wonder 
what lay under the tall rugged mountains, what lay beyond 
the ocean washing its western shore. Would he ever know? 
Who could tell? In the meantime, right then, it was his 
business to get that horse, cow, and himself on to Salem. 

After reaching that town, Dr. Minthorn opened a real" 
estate office with his nephew working as office boy. Before 
very long, however, that office boy knew more about the 
details of the firm's business than any of the grown-up 
members did. Those members found themselves turning to 
him for figures, for dates. And he knew both. Between the 
duties of his new work, Herbert Hoover was doubled up 
over an arithmetic or algebra back in a corner. Then, one 
day, an engineer appeared to talk to the older" men about the 
development of a mine. The office boy listened. He edged 
into the group. He asked a question. He and that engineer 
began to talk. And then he was staggered to hear himself 
asked: 

346 



AT THE WORLD^S CROSS ROADS 

"Why don't you be an engineer yourself?" 

He, Herbert Hoover? Why not? A new university with a 
good mining and geology department was to be opened in 
California the very next year. No charge was to be made 
for tuition. If he cared enough to go, he could find work to 
pay his living expenses. 

Suddenly out from that Salem real-estate office stretched 
a shining road for the feet of its slender, shy, sixteen-year 
old office boy. And that road was to make "all the differ' 
ence" in his life. Did he want to go to that college? He did. 
What was more he meant to do so if he could get by the 
entrance examinations. At any rate, he meant, from the 
second that engineer finished talking, to be an engineer 
himself. 

So he began to get ready for the California university. 
The only way open to do that was to study mathematics 
at a night school. He did that, then went to Portland to 
take an examination under the head of the mathematics 
department of Stanford. He failed. But even so there was a 
thoroughness in what he set down on his paper which led 
the examiner to believe the boy could and would make the 
entrance if given another chance. So he gave him the chance. 
And that is why Herbert Hoover appeared at Stanford 
that October, 1891, in the midst of all the pounding, aU 
the litter, of the few weeks of finishing the new college 
buildings. He had come to study under the university 
instructors for his entrance examinations. 

He passed his mathematics with flying colors at the end 
of that study He came through more slowly with his 
history and literature. And he stuck, dead still, far short of 
passing in his English composition. But he was a "special." 
He was planning to register as engineer, so he was con- 

347 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

ditioned in English composition. And was off at last on his 
four-year university course. 

Which meant that he was also off on four years of earning 
his living while he carried the stiff work necessary to make 
him the sort of mining engineer he meant to be. He earned 
that living by handling the San Francisco papers for the 
campus, by taking over the agency for a laundry, by manag- 
ing concerts and lectures for the university, by being 
secretary to his professor of geology, and, in the summer, 
by working with the Arkansas State and United States 
Geological Survey. 

And while studying, while earning his living, he was 
having his share in the life of the students at Stanford. 
That share meant allying himself with the "Barbs" of his 
school as against the "Frats." He did that naturally for 
he had been brought up in the simple, democratic life of 
frontier towns. His sympathies were with the attempts of 
the "Barbs" to increase their power through organization. 
He was sent out to gather in the votes of a group of students 
who were sleeping on the bunks and cooking their meals 
on the kerosene stoves in the shacks left standing by the 
workingmen who had built the college. He got those votes. 
The organization was established. Later, he became treasurer 
of that organization. 

All of which meant swinging politics college politics 
but nevertheless a game which took force, tact, and leader- 
ship. That leadership was of a peculiar sort in Herbert 
Hoover. He wasn't popular in the fashion of a football hero. 
Certainly he wasn't popular as a society fellow. But, 
someway, with his deep chuckle never quite coming out in 
a loud laugh, with his awe-inspiring ability in college 
finances, with his quiet decisiw voice in college discussions, 
with his real love of sports, he built up a place for him-* 

348 



AT THE WORLD'S CROSS ROADS 

self until not to know Herbert Hoover, was not to know 
Stanford. 



BUT those four years had to end. And by the time they had, 
Herbert Hoover '$ money had dwindled down to less than 
nothing. He had to earn more. He could not wait to choose 
what he would like to do. He had to move and move quickly. 
So he began as an ordinary miner, pounding, shoveling, 
running a hand car, in the Mayflower mine in California. 
He earned $2.50 for eight hours" work day or night. He 
earned that together with a group of Cornish miners and 
he learned much about practical mining from them and from 
those over him. While doing that he kept hearing the 
name of Louis Janin, a San Francisco engineer, toward 
whom all of the trained men in that mine showed a 
marked respect. Herbert Hoover decided Louis Janin's 
office was the pkce for him to get a real start in his 
profession. 

So, one day, after he had saved enough from his day's 
wages to pay his fare, he started for San Francisco and the 
office of Louis Janin. When he reached that office he stayed 
there. To be sure, he stayed for a time merely to attend to 
the great man's correspondence and general office routine. 
But, one day, that man suddenly dropped a mass of papers 
on the new clerk's desk and asked that clerk to work out a 
report from the confused material those papers contained. 
The job demanded all that young man's university training. 
More than that, it demanded just such practical experience 
as he had had at the Mayflower mine. And it demanded 
work. Hard work, day and night. When it was done, how- 
ever, it was done so well that Louis Janin really saw 
Herbert Hoover for the first time. 

340 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

After that, the road grew steadily easier for the young 
engineer. He was given more technical work. He was given 
a salary. He was sent out to mines in Colorado, New 
Mexico, Arizona. When he was twenty-three, Janin sent 
for him to come back to San Francisco and when he got there, 
asked him whether he wanted to leave at once for western 
Australia to direct the development of a gold mine there. 
Di^ k e _a Hoover want to go? Did he a young, very 
young mining engineer want such a chance? Even dased 
as he was, it did not take Herbert Hoover long to say he 
would take the chance. 

That done, he went out to find an old college friend. The 
two shouted wildly together. They bought clothes three 
new suits. And then young Hoover was off on his world 
adventures stopping at West Branch on the way, stopping 
also in London to talk with the firm who was sending him 
out to Australia. Were they a trifle surprised at his 
youth? Maybe so but not so much as they would have 
been if he had not grown a beard while crossing the 
Atlantic. 

Was he, himself, a little daunted when he reached that 
Australian mining camp? It stood in a desert, a ramshackle 
collection of sheds and tents, of saloons, of the usual lawless 
set of miners the center of work for the ten mines which 
young Hoover was to take charge of developing. Whether he 
halted a bit in his mind, nobody knew, for he got down to 
business at once, riding his camel over the sands, organizing, 
reorganising, sending off to America for men and machinery, 
and gradually bringing order and profit out of confusion and 
waste. 

By the time he was twenty^five he was known, not only 
in western Australia, but wherever such men as he were 
needed. One of those places was in China where the Chinese 

350 



AT THE WORLD S CROSS ROADS 

government had just established a new department of mines. 
Would Herbert Hoover come over and take charge of that 
new department? Yes, he would; but first he traveled back 
to California to marry Lou Henry, the girl with whom he 
had worked in the geological laboratory at Stanford. 

To marry her and to take her with him, far back into China 
to explore that ancient land for signs of iron, copper, lead 
and coal. And to find on the way, age-old manners and 
customs of the Chinese people. Those explorations ended 
with the decision that enormously wealthy coal mines 
lying under the surface of northeastern China should mark 
the real beginning of work for the department of mines. 
That meant living in Tientsin. It also meant being in that 
city when the Boxer Rebellion broke forth to shut the 
people of that town off from the rest of the world for four 
weeks behind a wall of defense thrown up and largely held 
by Herbert Hoover and his assistant engineers. During 
those weeks the Hoovers had their first experience in saving 
food, as well as in distributing it and medical supplies to 
helpless people suffering from war. 

With the whole country in rebellion, the department of 
mines ceased to exist and Herbert Hoover's job with it. 
But the mines were there, so he went to Europe, secured 
financial support for a private firm, and then, after a trip 
back to America, found himself once more in China making 
another attempt to develop the riches he knew ky under 
the surface there. This time he went to Tong Shan, took 
charge of 25,000 men, again sent back to America for help 
and the mines began to reward him by making profits for 
the owners. But the whole country was in conflict. Foreign 
armies of occupation did not help matters much. Herbert 
Hoover did not like any of that so he resigned in 1901 and 
returned to California. 

351 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

And there, at twenty-seven, he set about establishing his 
business. In that business he meant to center the world's 
interest in American especially Californian trained men 
and American mining equipment. He established head- 
quarters in San Francisco, in New York, in London, and 
branch offices throughout the world. He stood ready to 
travel or to send his men to the help of a firm opening new 
mines; he stood even more ready to take a sick mine over 
and pull it up to its full healthy yield. He made fortunes 
for others. He made one for himself. He came to employ 
750,000 men scattered far and wide over the earth Hoover 
men, they were called because of devotion to their chief. 

This work went on for a dozen years. While doing it he 
had found time to write his book on Principles of Mining. 
He had also found time, with Mrs. Hoover's help, to 
translate Agricola's volume of Latin on mining and smelting. 
And then when life seemed most secure for him and his 
fellow men, Germany marched upon Belgium. 



HERBERT HOOVER was in London when the news of that 
march startled the world. So were many other Americans. 
They needed help. He called his friends in to aid him. They 
advanced money, arranged steamship passages, and finally 
got 150,000 panic-stricken men and women started across 
the Atlantic. Then the Belgians called him. They had known 
him in China during his second stay there. What they had 
known made them sure he was the one man in all the world 
best fitted in mind and heart to help the ten million people 
surrounded by the enemy in their own country and northern 
France. The world knows the story that followed the 
story of how Herbert Hoover directed the carrying of 
five million tons of food and clothing through the German 

352 



AT THE WORLD'S CROSS ROADS 

lines without antagonizing the officers of those lines, and 
after that how he directed the distribution of those supplies 
to the fear-stricken, hungry old people and little children 
scattered over that war-swept region. 

The man who did that for a foreign land could not expect 
to escape responsibility in his own country when that 
country entered the war in 1917. He was called home and 
made United States food administrator. His high-sounding 
title really carried with it very little authority. But, perhaps, 
he did not need that for he was able to get people to work 
with him rather than for him. He organized the country 
down to the most remote crossroads. Every man and woman 
was made to feel he and she had a part in feeding not only 
their own people in America, not only the khaki-ckd men 
over by No Man's Land, but the other men in that land 
fighting with them, and those other men's children back 
home. Some way before they knew or realized just what 
was happening, citizens of the United States had reached 
out to share with the citizens of countries overseas. And 
whether they realized it or not that sharing had helped to 
bring them all up to a crossroad in their national life. 

With the coming of Armistice Day, Herbert Hoover 
might have considered he was through. Of course as a 
Quaker, he was even more deeply glad for that day than 
many others. But just to stop fighting didn^t stop the 
hunger and sickness of people suffering for four years from 
war. Relief work must go on, and after the armistice it 
was to go on among the helpless victims back in the enemy's 
countries as well as in those of the allies. Others agreed with 
him. He was put at the head of the work, Congress ap" 
propriated $100,000,000. Later, this was increased by loans 
from both the United States and other governments. 
Altogether, twenty-three countries were helped by that 

353 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

organized effort. Even after that money was spent there 
was need. Little children were hungry. Herbert Hoover 
could not rest until something was done to feed them. So he 
and a few friends came together, built up the European 
Children's Fund, which continued to help millions until 
peace was established. 



ANY man who could do all of that war work of organizing, 
distributing, conserving, and at the same time remain a 
friend equally a friend to many world powers was too 
valuable not to be used by the United States government 
in the days of recovering from war. So thought President 
Harding and straightway made Herbert Hoover secretary 
of commerce in his cabinet. President Coolidge kept him on 
in the same position. Trade was sick. Men were fearful. 
Secretary Hoover called this group and that group into 
conference with him. Business assurance began to appear. 
He assembled all the knowledge available from foreign 
markets. He worked to standardise production. It is claimed 
that under him the export trade, alone, of the United States 
increased in value, at least half a billion dollars a year. And 
nobody has yet dared to measure how far-reaching his 
program still runs into the future. 

Of course, such a man as Herbert Hoover could not 
escape the clutch of political leaders. Up until his work in 
the cabinet, he had never been particularly interested in 
their plans or policies. Even after that work was under way 
he protested when some of his Republican friends tried to 
nominate him for president in 1924. That attempt failed, 
but in 1928 the whole party was awake to the promise of 
success through him. He was, therefore, easily nominated. 
In the campaign that followed, he made but few speeches 

354 



AT THE WORLDS CROSS ROADS 

over the country. There was one out at Palo Alto to which 
all of the triumphant alumni of Stanford "tuned in." There 
was another at West Branch to which every plain American 
citizen did the same in order to hear Herbert Hoover talk 
in everyday friendliness with his old neighbors. There were 
others to which the whole world listened listened in 
approval. In the end the people of the United States spoke 
in no uncertain voice. Herbert Hoover went into the White 
House by one of the most astounding majorities the country 
had ever given to any man. 



And then not only the United States but the world 
leaned back, took a long breath, and watched Herbert 
Hoover. There had been many a lawyer, a few galknt 
generals, one college professor among the twenty-nine 
presidents who had gone before; but there had never been 
a mining engineer. There had been many a politician in that 
line who had come up from his own hometown office, serv- 
ing in every intervening place of authority on the way to 
Washington; but there was no one who had stepped out of 
his own professional experience directly into the cabinet 
and from there into the presidency. There had been many a 
diplomat who had served in foreign capitals and then 
brought his experience to serve the American people in 
foreign relations; but where had there been a man among 
that whole twenty-nine who had brought the experience 
of matching wits with those of big business operating aU 
over the globe; where was there one who had lived as a 
neighbor with so many remote peoples; where was there 
one who had had the great opportunity, and the leadership 
to make the most of that opportunity, to serve both world 
friend and world foe in time of great calamity? What 
355 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

would this man Herbert Hoover do, what could he not 
do, men asked themselves, with all of this very practical 
experience, all of this very intimate knowledge of world 
affairs, all of this gift for understanding and helping his 
neighbor both at home and abroad? 

What sort of a world did he see as he looked out from his 
new place of vantage? Overseas the nations were struggling 
valiantly to get back on their feet after the devastating 
loss of life and property they had met during the World 
War, Debt, war debt, was clogging their progress at 
every turn. At home, in America, Calvin Coolidge had 
stepped out of the presidency to look back on a land where 
big business was fairly purring in the sunshine of prosperous 
days. To be sure the farmers were not purring. In fact they 
were growling most threateningly, for the very over- 
abundance of their fields was bringing them distress by 
crowding the markets and thus lowering prices. Generally 
speaking, therefore, Herbert Hoover looked out on March 4, 
1929, to see an America groaning with plenty. 

Now, strange as it may seem, it was that very plenty 
which was to be America's undoing and to bring a dis- 
tressing setback to the brilliant promise of President 
Hoover's administration. Because men, through speculation, 
were making fortunes overnight, because others were heap- 
ing up chests of treasure already full to spilling, even wise 
men and women lost their heads and a raging fever of 
speculation spread over the whole land. Then, suddenly, 
there came the Wall .Street crash. That was in October, 
1929. Vast fortunes, one after another, were swept away. 
Lifetime savings of people with only moderate incomes 
vanished. A panic of fear swept the land. Nobody would 
buy anything, anywhere. Business, so recently gloating in 
safety, now found its very foundations slipping out from 

356 



AT THE WORLD^S CROSS ROADS 

under it. Employees were discharged right and left. And in 
the same centers where plenty had so recently reigned, 
want set up long heartbreaking bread lines. 

Following that winter of fear and widespread want, the 
summer of 1930 came bringing a drought which shriveled 
the Eastern and Middle West crops as if a vast fire had 
swept over the fields. Cattle suffered and died from thirst. 
Whole families grew gaunt with hunger. 

What was Herbert Hoover doing all of this time? What 
could he do? Well, he could keep his campaign pledges or 
try to do so. So a Federal Farm Board was set up, a revision 
of agricultural tariff rates was planned, and a revolving 
fund of $500,000,000 was established to aid the suffering 
fanner. A high tariff bill & very high one was put 
through, according to the usual Republican policy, and met, 
also as usual, with a stampede of public disapproval. 
Appropriations were made to start public improvements 
and thus give work to thousands of unemployed. In all, 
by the end of his first two years, President Hoover had 
put into execution a very creditable list of acts to relieve 
the financial depression. 

Now, if that financial sickness had been confined to the 
United States alone, perhaps it could have been checked 
before it got so far under way. But, as has been said, 
European money markets were already tottering. They 
continued to do so more and more dangerously; especially 
those of Germany, which quite naturally was burdened 
most heavily with that war's debts and reparations. 
England, the United States, France, Italy, Belgium, Japan 
all of the nations which had heavy payments coming due 
from the government of Germany looked anxiously toward 
Berlin. Whatever affected the treasury there was bound to 
affect treasuries all over the world. The day had come 

357 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 

when no nation could lose or gain without every other 
nation losing and gaining with it. Something had to be done 
to strengthen Germany's credit, to give her time to readjust 
her business affairs. 

It was in those days of stress that Herbert Hoover, sweep" 
ing the skyline of the world's need, sent a message winging 
its way toward the east. Why not take a year's holiday on 
war-debt payments, that message asked. Why not? America 
was ready, so he claimed. Were the other great nations 
also ready? Would they all share in bringing relief to 
Germany and thus give her a chance to live? Would they, 
by so doing, also help themselves? With a joy only second 
to that felt when the Americans swept into No Man's 
Land, the majority of the nations immediately decided to 
take that holiday. As if by magic, markets sprang into 
activity again. But the delay caused by weighing this and 
that possibility, caused that activity to dwindle before the 
holiday was finally and universally set going. 

What did the American people think of their President's 
plan for a year's holiday on war-debt payments? That 
holiday meant that the income of the United States would 
be lowered by many, many millions of dollars. And this at 
just the time when financial distress lay heavily over the 
land. Nevertheless, Americans cheered their President, 
cheered him proudly and lustily for the swift and wise 
courage he had shown in sending his message. 

Once before, America had had cause to cheer President 
Hoover's world vision. That was after he and Ramsay 
MacDonald, England's Prime Minister, had sat on a log 
in the President's Rapidan camp and discussed the further- 
ance of what both wanted to bring about more than any 
other one thing world peace. f The influence of that 
hour's quiet talk among the Virginia hills was felt in London 

358 



AT THE WORLD'S CROSS ROADS 

later, when a treaty was ratified to limit their navy fleets 
by Great Britain, the United States, and Japan. Twice, 
therefore at least twice Herbert Hoover in his first 
two years had fearlessly standing where "two roads 
diverged" stepped out down the "one less traveled by." 
Both times the American people had approved. Perhaps, 
after all, they were far more ready to travel that way than 
they dreamed they were. 

And all through these troublesome two years, Herbert 
Hoover has been steadily, purposefully following out one 
great desire the desire to make the children of today 
stronger for their tomorrow than any generation before 
them has ever been. To that end he has never let anything 
of financial anxiety, anything of political worry, interfere 
with his White House Conference for Children. If his 
plans are carried out, every child in this land, rich or poor, 
high or low, will have his chance to grow sounder in body, 
more far-seeing in mind, more friendly in spirit. 

If he accomplishes that for America's children; if he 
maintains the world friendliness he has been so largely 
responsible for developing, who can measure just what 
Herbert Hoover's administration is to mean to America, 
to the world, when it finally takes its place among those of 
the past? 



359 



INDEX 



Adams, John, for Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, 45 

in France, 43 

life of, 23-34 

vice-president, 16 

Adams, John Quincy, Hayes* reference to, 
202, 203 

life of, 74-82 
Adams family, 23, 74, 79 
Alabama, Indian trouble in, 90 
Alaska, rights in, 271 
Alien and Sedition Laws, 32, 45, 58 
Annapolis Convention, 15, 57 
Anti'Federalist party, origin of, 17 
Anti-slavery speeches, 94 
Armament Limitation, International Con- 
ference on, 318 
Arthur, Chester A., life of, 218-225 

vice-president, 216 
Articles of Confederation, 14 
Ashburton, Lord, British minister, 112 
Ashburton-Webster Treaty, 112 
Australia, Hoover in, 350 
Austria-Hungary, and World War repa- 
rations, 301 



B 



Bank of the United States, Jackson's 

policy on, 93 
Belgians, relief of, 352 
Black Hawk, General Taylor's expedition 

against, 127 
Elaine, James G., candidate for president, 

265 

Harding's support of, 311 
secretary of state, 217 



Boston Massacre, John Adams' defense of 

British in, 27 
Boston Port Bill, Washington's reaction to, 

11 

Boundary, northeast, 112 
northwest, 120, 147 
Texan, 120 

Braddock, General, Washington under, 9 
Briand, M., pkn to outlaw war, 338 
British, and Andrew Jackson, 88, 90 

(See also Great Britain.) 
British Guiana, boundary trouble of, 246 
British troops in Boston, 11 
British West Indies, American trade with, 

81 

Brown, John, of Kansas, 148 
Bryan, William Jennings, candidate for 

president, 254 

Buchanan, James, life of, 143-150 
Bunker Hill, 12, 74 
Burr, Aaron, 46, 47, 90, 99, 127 



Calhoun, John C. presidential candidate, 
80 

secretary of state, 112 

vice-president, 101, 102 
Chesapeake, 48, 68 

Chile controversies settled with, 246 
China, Hoover in, 351, 352 

trouble with, 271 
Chinese, exclusion of, 224 
Civil Service, under Arthur, 224 

under Benjamin Harrison, 245 

under Grant, 195 

under Hayes, 207, 222 

under Roosevelt, 266, 270 



361 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 



Clay, Henry, presidential candidate, 80, 
119 

proposes Compromise of 1850, 129 

secretary of state, 80 

and Treaty of Ghent, 79 
Clayton Antitrust Act, 297 
Cleveland, Grover, campaign of 1884, 311 

life of, 226-239 
Clinton, De Witt, 99 
Colombia, William Henry Harrison, min- 
ister to, 107 

Wilson's policy toward, 298 
Compromise of 1850, 140 
Confederacy, Southern, formed, 164 
Conkling, Roscoe, 223 
Constitution of United States, preparation 
of, 14-16, 29, 30, 58, 66 

on slavery, 70 
Coolidge, Calvin, life of, 321-339 

vice-president, 316, 334, 335 
Cornwallis, surrender of, 13 
Crawford, presidential candidate, 80 
Cuba, government of, 257 

proposed annexation of, 141, 148 

protection of, 272 

Taft in, 282 

Custis, Martha, wife of George Washing- 
ton, 10 



Dana, Francis, envoy to Russia, 74, 78 
Dark horse, James A. Garfield, 223 

Franklin Pierce, 139 

James K. Polk, 119 
Davis, Jefferson, 128, 164 
Dean, Silas, 41 
Debt, first national, 17 

World War, 358 
Declaration of Independence, drafted, 28 

Jefferson's work on, 28, 41 
Democrats, origin of, under Jefferson, 92 
Dewey, Admiral, in Manila Bay, 255, 279 
Douglas, Stephen A., 148, 163 
Duquesne, Fort, 10 



Emancipation Proclamation, 166 
Embargo Act, under Jefferson, 48 

under Madison, 59 
England (see Great Britain; British). 



Federal Farm Board, 357 

Federal Reserve Bill, 297 

Federal Trade Commission, 297 

Federalist party, origin of, 17 

Fifteenth Amendment, 194 

Fillmore, Millard, life of, 130-133 
vice-president, 129 

Florida, Jackson and Seminoles in, 91 
Spain cedes to United States, 79 
Spanish claims to, 68 
Taylor and Seminoles in, 127 

France, aid in Revolution, 13, 28 
Jefferson's sympathy with, 44 
John Adams on mission to, 28 
Monroe's sympathy with, 67 
protection of Maximilian, 167 
sympathy for and against, 18, 43, 67 
at war with Great Britain, 18, 20 
war threatened with United States, 

31-33, 45 
Wilson in, 301 

Franklin, Benjamin, aid to Monroe, 67 
at Constitutional Convention, 15 
Declaration of Independence, work on, 

28 

drawing up peace treaty, 29 
on mission to France, 41, 43 

Frost, Robert, quoted, 340 

Fugitive slave law, 133 



Gadsden Purchase, 141 
Garfield, James A., life of, 209-217 
Georgia, trouble with Indians, 81, 90 
Germany, peace treaty with, 318 
Samoan Isknds and, 246 
World War reparations, 301 



.362 



INDEX 



Ghent, treaty of, 79 

Grant, Ulysses S., life of, 186-197 

third'term campaign, 216 
Great Britain, alliance with Indians in 
Northwest, 107 

American sea trade and, 20, 48 

Behring Sea fishery dispute, 246 

Central American controversy with, 148 

Constitution of, 24 

favors Southern Confederacy, 167, 195 

Oregon boundary and, 120, 147 

seeks alliance with United States, 71 

terms of peace with, 42 

trouble with colonies, 10 

Van Buren, minister to, 101 

at war with France, 18, 20 

Washington's attitude toward, 10, 11 
(See also British.) 



H 



Hague, The, Peace Congress at, 246, 271 

Haiti, protection of, 298 

Halleck, General, 191, 192 

Hamilton, Alexander, Federalist leader, 17 

first secretary of treasury, 18 

opposed to Jefferson, 44 
Hancock, Winfield Scott, presidential 

candidate, 217 

Hanks, Nancy, Lincoln's mother, 155 
Harding, Warren G., life of, 304-320 
Harrison, Benjamin, defeats Cleveland, 236 

life of, 240-246 

Harrison, William Henry, grandfather of 
Benjamin Harrison, 240 

life of, 104-108 
Hawaii, possession of, 256 

protection of, 272 

question of annexation, 238 
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, friend of Pierce, 

137, 142 

Hayes, Rutherford B,, investigation of 
New York port, 222 

life of, t 198-208 
Health, National Bureau of, 284 



Hoover, Herbert, life of, 340-359 
secretary of commerce, 317 338 

Houston, Samuel, 112 

Howe, General, 12, 13 

Hughes, Charles E., secretary of state, 317, 

318 
in tribute to Warren Harding, 320 



I 



Illinois, home of Grant, 191, 196 
of Lincoln, 158-169 
of Senator Stephen A. Douglas, 163 
Independent Treasury System, 120 
Indiana, home of Benjamin Harrison, 243 
Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison, 

. governor of, 104 

Indians, campaigns against, 90, 107, 127 
Jefferson's policy toward, 48 
John Quincy Adams, Georgia trouble 

and, 81 

Interstate Commerce Commission, 284 
Iowa, native state of Hoover, 343-345 



J 



Jackson, Andrew, British and, 88, 90 

leader of new democratic party, 84 

life of, 83-95 

presidential candidate, 80, 81 

supported by Polk, 118 

by Van Buren, 100 
Japan, Roosevelt's aid to, 271 

Taft in, 282 

Wilson's policy toward, 298 
Jay, John, 20, 21, 29, 56 
Jefferson, Thomas, Anti-Federalist leader, 
17,18 

democracy of, 83-84 

drafts Declaration of Independence, 28 

friendship with Madison, 50, 53, 59 
with Monroe, 66 

life of 35-49 

loyalty to Washington, 19 

minister to Paris, 18 

neutrality policy of, 71 



363 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 



Jefferson, Thomas, secretary of state 17 

vice-president, 31 

Johnson, Andrew, life of, 170-185 
Johnston, Mrs. Sarah, Lincoln's step' 
mother, 156 



Kansas, Le Compton Constitution for, 149 

settlement of, 140 

slavery war in, 143 
Kansas-Nebraska Bill, 140 
Kellogg, Secretary, and world peace, 338 
Kentucky, home of Lincoln, 155 

of Taylor, 124 
Kentucky Resolutions, 46 



League of Nations, opposition to, 314, 315 

and Wilson, 301-303 
Le Compton Constitution, 149 
Lee, Richard Henry, resolutions of, 28 
Leopard, fires on Chesapeake, 48 
Lewis and Clark, expedition of, 47 
Limitation of navy, 359 
Lincoln, Abraham, in appreciation of 

Johnson, 180, 181 
contrasted with President Johnson, 180, 

181 

Hayes' view of, 204 
life of, 151-169 
Lincoln-Douglas debate, 148 
Livingston, Philip, work on Declaration of 

Independence, 28 
Livingston, Robert, and purchase of 

Louisiana, 47, 67 

Lord North, Jefferson's answer to, 40 
Louisiana, William Henry Harrison, gov- 
ernor of territory, 104 
purchase of, 47, 67 

M 

MacDonald, Ramsay, visit to President 
Hoover, 358, 359 



Madison, James, life of, 50-61 
Massachusetts, native state of John 

Adams, 23 

of John Quincy Adams, 74 
Maximilian of Austria, 167 
McClellan, General, presidential candidate, 

168 

McKinley, William, life of, 247-258 
McKinley Tariff Bill, 245, 246 
Mellon, Andrew, secretary of treasury, 

317, 338 

Mexico, American troops in, 298 
French protection of, 167 
war with, 120-121 
Mississippi river, trade on, 21, 56 
Missouri Compromise, 70-71, 114, 140 
Monroe, James, life of, 62-73 
Monroe Doctrine, 72 

work of John Quincy Adams on, 79 



N 



Napoleon, 79 

National Bank Bill, signed by Washington, 

19 
Netherlands, recognition of United States 

by, 29 
Neutrality, proclamation of, 71 

Washington's declaration of, 19 
New Hampshire, native state of Pierce, 134 
New Jersey, native state of Cleveland, 229 
New York, native state of Rllmore, 130 

of Roosevelt, 260 

ofVanBuren, 96 
Nicaragua, proposed canal in, 225 

Wilson's policy toward, 298 
North Carolina, native state of Johnson, 

173 
Northwest Territory, Benjamin Harrison's 

interest in, 245 

William Henry Harrison, secretary to, 
104 

O 

Ohio, later home of William Henry 
Harrison, 107 



364 



INDEX 



Ohio, native state of Benjamin Harrison, 243 

ofGarfield, 210 

of Grant, 186 

of Harding, 307 

of Hayes, 198 

ofMcKinley, 248 

ofTaft,2?4 

Ostend Manifesto, 141, 147 
Otis, James, 24 



Pan' American Congress, 246 

Panama, Congress of American Republics 

in, 82 

Roosevelt and, 272 
Secretary Taft in, 282 
Wilson's canal trade policy for, 298 
Paris, Jefferson, minister to, 18 
John Adams on mission to, 74 
John Quincy Adams in, 74, 79 

(See also France.) 
Payne-Aldrich Bill, 283 
Pennsylvania, native state of Buchanan, 

147 
Perry, Commander, and Japanese treaty, 

141 

Pershing, General John J., 300 
Philadelphia, Constitutional Convention 

in, 15, 58 

Continental Congress in, 11 
Philippines, Roosevelt's policy toward, 272 
Taft, Commanders-chief of, 274, 279, 

281 

United States in possession of, 256 
Wilson's policy toward, 297 
Pierce, Franklin, life of, 134-142 
Pinckney, Thomas, and treaty with Spain, 

21 
Pinckney, William, and treaty with Eng' 

land, 68 

Pitt, Fort, Fort Duquesne becomes, 10 
Political parties, Barn Burners and Free 

Soilers, 103 

Jeffersonian and Jacksonian democracy, 
84 



Political parties, New Republican party 

under Lincoln, 164 
origin of Federalist and Anti'Federalist, 

17 

Progressives, under Roosevelt, 296 
Republican, under Jefferson, 18 
Republicans split into Whigs and 

Democrats, 92 

Polk, James Knox, life of, 114, 122 
Porto Rico, becomes possession of United 

States, 256 
Provincial Convention, first, 11 



Reconstruction, Grant's policy toward, 
193, 194 

Hayes' policy toward, 207 

Johnson's policy toward, 182, 183 

Lincoln's vision of, 168 
Republican party, new, 164 

old, 18, 92 
Revolution, American, Jefferson in, 42 

John Adams in, 24-29 

Monroe in, 66 

Washington's service in, 11-13 
Roosevelt, Theodore, in campaign of 1912, 
296 

as candidate for third term, 285 

life of, 259-273 

in relation to Taft, 281, 282, 285 

vice-president, 256 
Rough Riders, 267, 268 
Russia, Buchanan, minister to, 147 

and recognition of United States, 74, 78 

Roosevelt aids, 271 



Samoan Islands, control of, 256 

controversy over, 246 
Santo Domingo, military government of, 

298 
Scott, General Winfield, candidate for 

president, 139 
in war with Mexico, 127 



365 



THE BOOK OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS 



Secession, under Buchanan, 14<H.50, 164 
Johnson's stand on, 180 
Lincoln's view of, 164-166 
Tyler's part in, 113 

Seward, William, 129 

Sherman, Roger, work on Declaration of 
Independence, 28 

Sherman Anti-trust Act, 254, 284 

Sherman Silver Bill, 237, 245 

Slavery, effect on Southern trade, 93, 94 
Fiilmore and fugitive slave law, 133 
John Quincy Adams and, 82, 94 
Lincoln and, 151, 162-164, 166 
under Monroe's administration, 70 
Pierce's sympathy with, 140 
Polk and, 121 

situation under Buchanan, 143, 148-150 
Taylor's position 'on, 128, 129 
in time of Washington, 21-22 
Tyler's policy toward, 111-113 
under Van Buren, 100 

Spain, cedes Florida to United States, 79 
desire to regain power in America, 71 
trade rights on Mississippi, 21, 56 
War with, 255, 256, 267-269 

Spoils system, and Jackson, 93 
in New York, 100, 269 

Stalwarts, group of New York Repub- 
licans called, 216, 223 

Stamp Act, John Adams against, 24 

Stanton, Edwin M., and Johnson, 183 

Subtreasury, law of 1840, 102 
system, 121 



Taft, William Howard, life of, 274-286 

for reflection, 296 
Tariff, famous bills on, "of abominations," 

81. 101 
Dingley, 254 
McKinley, 253, 254 
Payne^drich, 283 
Underwood, 297 
Walker, 121 



Tariff, outstanding presidential policies 
on, 70, 120, 237, 253, 254, 283, 
297, 317,- 357 

beginning with Washington, 17 
Taylor, Zachary, life of, 123-130 

in Texas, 120 

Tecumseh, and General Harrison, 104 
Tennessee, home of Jackson, 89 
of Johnson, 176 
of Polk, 117 

Tenure of Office Act, 183, 184, 193 
Texas, annexation of, 112, 119, 120 
boundary of, 120, 127 
and independence of Mexico, 112 
slavery in, 112 
Thirteenth Amendment, 167 
Tilden, Samuel J., candidate for president, 

207 
Tippecanoe, battle of, 104, 107 

in campaign cry, 104 * 

Todd, Dorothy Payne, wife of Madison, 58 
Todd, Mary, wife of Lincoln, 161 
Tyler, John, life of, 108-113 
vice-president, 104 



U 



Union, Lincoln-Johnson nominating con.' 
vention called, 181 

V 

Van Buren, Martin, contrasted with 

William Henry Harrison, 108 
disapproval of, 119 
life of, 96-103 
Venezuela, Benjamin Harrison, counsel to, 

246 
Vermont, native state of Arthur, 218 

ofCoolidge, 326 

Versailles, peace treaty of, 300-302 
Virginia, cedes land to Federal Govern* 

ment, 43 

native state of Jefferson, 36 
of Madison, 50 
of Monroe, 62 



366 



INDEX 



Virginia, native state of Taylor, 124 
of Tyler, 108 
of Washington, 4 
of William Henry Harrison, 104 
of Wilson, 291 

W 

Walker, William, 141 
Wars of United States, with Germany, 
273, 286, 298-302, 314, 318, 
352-354 
with Great Britain, 59, 60, 69, 78-79, 

90, 91, 107, 144 
with Mexico, 120, 121, 127, 128, 138, 

162, 190 

Revolution of 1776, 11-13 
with Spain, 255-256, 267-269 
(See also Indians.) 
Washington, as capital of United States, 

first inauguration in, 46 
Washington, George, contrasted with 
Taylor, 123 



Washington, George, life of, 3-22 

neutrality policy of, 71 

opposition to, 67, 89-90 
Wayles, Martha, wife of Jefferson, 39 
Webster, Daniel, secretary of state, 112 
Whigs, under John Quincy Adams, 92 
Whiskey Rebellion, 21 
White House Conference for Children, 359 
Wilson, Woodrow, Hfe of, 287-303 

reaction against, 316 

and Taft, 286 
Wood, Leonard, in war with Spain, 267, 

268 

World Court, 315, 338 
World War, debts of, 356, 357 

Harding and, 314, 315, 318 

Hoover and, 352-354 

Roosevelt and, 273 

Taft and, 286 

Wilson and, 298-302 



X, Y, and Z papers, 31, 32 



367 






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